THE woman heading plans to axe daycare nurseries says she cannot afford to bring up her family on her £25,000 a year councillor’s allowance.
Rosemary Drewett, now nicknamed Councillor Blew-it by enraged parents, admits she could not manage without her additional five-figure ‘day job’ salary as a social worker.
Her controversial statement came days before the council considered plans to save £216,000 a year by closing or merging all its nurseries – a move that has now sparked a city-wide protest.
Mrs Drewett, in charge of children’s’ services, is one of seven city cabinet members due to pocket a total of £155,995 of taxpayers’ cash in allowances this year.
She was emailed by a hard-up working mum who was begging for her child’s £900 a month council nursery to stay open.
Explaining her delay in replying to the SOS email, Mrs Drewett wrote: “I don’t regard a four day turn around (sic) as bad going at all, given that I do my MKC job alongside a full time day job.”
She added that a council colleague would be ‘happy to confirm that a councillor’s allowance does not cover anywhere near the cost of paying a mortgage and supporting a family.’
The mum said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it.
“If the councillor in charge of children’s services in Milton Keynes can’t come ‘anywhere near’ surviving on £25,000 a year, then how on earth can she expect us to survive without her day nurseries?
“Without these nurseries, parents like me cannot go out to work.
“Most of us earn far less than £25,000 yet we manage – and we pay our children’s nursery fees.
“Clearly this woman is not in touch with reality and should not be in charge of making cuts that affect our children and our lives.”
Mrs Drewett dropped a second bombshell at Tuesday night’s Cabinet meeting, where 100 parents gathered to protest about the nursery closures.
She was asked by one father how much it would cost the council to keep all eight nurseries open.
She replied: “I am just the head of the committee. I don’t deal with the figures directly. I am not sure of the exact numbers you’ve presented there.”
The angry parent then revealed it had taken just five minutes to find the information – in the council’s own papers.
With the public consultation period due to start after half-term, parents are now busy devising ways to keep open the affected nurseries. Some are devising their own business plans to run them privately.
One Wolverton dad, Victor Torcato has launched an online petition on www.gopetition.com/petition/42939.html and is urging people to sign it.
> For more details of the nursery protest turn to page 3.