Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

78.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

Minutes:

In the absence of Councillor Alison Millar, the Vice-Chair Councillor Matt Cochrane acted as the Chairman and welcomed everyone to the meeting.

79.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE

The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.

 

80.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Minutes:

Councillors Alison Millar and Liz Hardman had given their apologies to the Panel. Councillors Paul Crossley and John Bull were present as their substitutes for the duration of the meeting.

 

Apologies were also received from the Panel’s co-opted members David Williams, Andrew Tarrant, Chris Batten and Kevin Burnett.

81.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:

(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest,  (as defined in Part 2, A and B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)

Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officer or a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

Minutes:

There were none.

82.

TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

At this point in the meeting the Panel approved the Terms of Reference as written within Appendix 5 of the report.

83.

ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING

At the time of publication no notifications had been received.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Eleanor Jackson addressed the Panel on behalf of parents and children within Radstock and Westfield. She explained that one parent had informed her that no places were available now at the St Nicholas private nursery.

 

She added that the closure would be a great loss to the local primary school as this was currently enabling children to move on seamlessly.

 

She stated that over the years the Council has signed up to and agreed many charters and policies to give children the best chance in life, but local children will be robbed of the opportunity should the nursery close. She added that studies show that children that do not receive nursery provision can be as much as two years behind their peers when beginning primary school.

 

She said that she felt that the Cabinet Member had failed to consider the equalities impact of his decision and that no proper analysis of alternatives had been carried out.

 

She called for the nurseries to remain open.

 

Councillor Paul Crossley asked if there were two nurseries situated at St Nicholas Primary School.

 

Councillor Eleanor Jackson replied that both the private St Nicholas Pre-School and the Council’s Radstock Nursery have premises in the grounds of the Primary School.

 

Councillor Peter Turner asked her what she thought of the options for local provision.

 

Councillor Eleanor Jackson replied that St Mary's Church of England Nursery in Writhlington would be difficult to access for some families as it is situated at the top of quite a large hill and that the provision at Fosseway was not available until the children are four years old.

 

She added that the Radstock Children’s Nursery has a very good relationship with the staff within Children’s Services.

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Jackson for her statement on behalf of the Panel.

84.

Call-in of decision E3038 - Closure of the remaining two Council run nurseries pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Any 10 Councillors not in the Council’s Cabinet may request that a Cabinet or Single Member Decision made but not yet implemented be reconsidered by the person or body who made it.  This is called a “call-in” and has the effect of preventing the implementation of the decision pending a review of the decision by a Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel.

This report sets out the call-in received by 10 Councillors of the decision relating to the decision on theproposed closure of the remaining two Council run nurseries and the transfer of children’s places to other providers in the local area. The role of the Panel is to consider the issues raised by both call-in notices and to determine its response.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Liz Hardman, Lead Call-In Member addressed the Panel. A copy of her statement can be found on their Minute Book and as an online appendix to these minutes, a summary of the statement is set out below.

 

 I would like to explain why we have called in the decision regarding closure of the remaining two Council run nurseries. The reasons we have been given for closing these 2 nurseries, appear logical. The nurseries in question are below numbers and run at a loss. However, if we examine this decision in more detail, it emerges that there are many more factors to consider.

 

It is no surprise that these 2 Council run nurseries are found in 2 of the most deprived areas of B&NES, Radstock and Foxhill, both showing features of persistent relative deprivation which are extreme when seen against the wealth of much of B&NES. These nurseries are the ones which cater for working families, open from early morning to late evening.

 

This therefore is the main reason for the Call In. The proposed decision has not taken into account the impact on families and children in crisis, families with challenging children and children with disabilities, protected under the 2010 Equalities Act. Families in need are referred to these nurseries from the local Children’s Centres. These two nurseries offer wrap around support and take children for a full day from 8am-6pm, unlike many other local nurseries. With these nurseries closing it will have an impact on our ability to provide services for vulnerable children and families. The staff in these nurseries are experienced in dealing with families with difficulties and are able to provide appropriate help and intervention.

 

Secondly, under the Children Act,2006, the Council is required to assess the local childcare market and to secure sufficient childcare for working parents. Sections 6, 8 -11 and 13 says childcare will only be deemed to be sufficient if it meets the needs of the community and in particular, those families on lower income and those with disabled children.

 

In Radstock, the sufficiency figure is only 0.73%, meaning that there are already fewer places than required. The figures for Radstock show that if the proposed closure goes ahead by July 2018, there will be 30 children in need of a nursery place. I understand that every effort will be made to place these children, but with the sufficiency number being low, there won’t be enough places.  We will therefore be failing in our duty to provide sufficient childcare.

 

We have not been told how long these nurseries have been running at a loss, or how long they have been below numbers. Apparently parents were notified about 6 months ago that the nurseries “may close”. This would certainly have had an impact on numbers. In fact, the nearby Midford Road Nursery which does open from 8am-6pm, is full and will remain full for the next 18 months. Reason why? When parents got wind of St Martin’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84.

Cllr Hardman - Council Nurseries Statement pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Nurseries Call In Briefing Paper pdf icon PDF 81 KB