“It’s important that everyone across North East Lincolnshire is able to have their say and we want them to. People can help to shape the decisions made to support our young children and families in the future.”
The words of the council’s portfolio holder for children and education, Cllr Margaret Cracknell, as she announced an extension to the public consultation into the futures of Great Coates Village Nursery, Scartho Nursery School and Reynolds Day Care.
The decision to extend this period was made last Wednesday by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Cabinet but only revealed today to ensure that staff who may be affected by any change were told first.
Cllr Cracknell, along with other Cabinet members, wish to reassure everyone that the now eight-week consultation, that will close on August 4, is exactly what the word means – a consultation to seek everyone’s views and ideas. The result will display a determined effort to ensure the very best outcome for the whole of North East Lincolnshire.
However she, supported by the Council’s Cabinet, is clear that change is necessary for these reasons:
- Occupancy levels at the three facilities have been consistently low;
- The facilities have been maintained, but do not provide a 21st century learning environment standard as set out by the Department for Education in order for children to thrive.
- The facilities are running at a deficit, and this cannot continue. The authority must consider all young people across North East Lincolnshire and fair and equal investment;
“I wish to make it absolutely clear that I and my fellow Cabinet members have a responsibility to listen, to take ideas and suggestions of all kinds and ultimately to make a decision that is in the best interests of families right across North East Lincolnshire. This is what we will do, and this consultation is the start of that process. Yes, change must happen in the case of these three facilities, this consultation is about what that change looks like,” said Cllr Cracknell.
Cllr Cracknell explained numbers in such facilities do fluctuate with changes in birth rates, and where people choose to live in North East Lincolnshire. An important factor was also where parents decided to take their young children for care. That is why the views of all residents of the borough, and even possibly outside North East Lincolnshire, were important – parents may want to take their children to a care setting near their work or where relatives can collect them, as an example.
“I am today saying once more that this is a consultation. Yes, we must consider change – when you look at the issues that exist around budgets, capacity, and buildings, it would be irresponsible of us not to. What we would like is for people to come forward with ideas and proposals.”
As the consultation moves forward, North East Lincolnshire Council will be publishing a series of questions and answers on its website. When that is live, if you have a question that is not on there, please email your enquiries to [email protected].
Meanwhile to have your say on the consultation around the proposals, visit www.nelincs.gov.uk/have-your-say. The consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 4th August 2023.