Parents protest to save their nursery

Parents protest outside the Civic Offices over the closure of Russell Street Nursery
Parents protest outside the Civic Offices over the closure of Russell Street Nursery

PARENTS fighting to save an ‘outstanding’ nursery took to the streets outside the council offices in central Milton Keynes on Friday.

Russell Street Day Nursery has been a feature in Stony Stratford for 70 years but is in danger of being lost forever.

The Nursery Parents Association is protesting at the way it believes Milton Keynes Council has neglected the building and now considers it is a real possibility it will be demolished.

Cliff Brett, from Stony Stratford, who has a 20-month-old daughter registered at the nursery, said: “The council has neglected the nursery over the years and just not reinvested – they are responsible and are now trying to get rid of what they see as a problem.”

Surveyor’s reports highlight problems such as damp, but parents argue no significant effort has been made by the council to improve the state of the building.

Following a heating failure before Christmas, staff and children have been forced to temporarily relocate to the Rowans Surestart Centre on Fullers Slade but parents fear this may become a permanent move.

Parents were only given two weeks notice of the temporary relocation and further discussions appear to make it a foregone conclusion that Russell Street Day Nursery will remain closed.

Philip Walton, Milton Keynes Conservative Councillor for Stony Stratford, attended Russell Street as a child and supports the parents’ cause.

He said: “I am seething about this to be honest – to be given two weeks notice was really not on.

“What really annoys me is that the council has got money that can be used to make up the amount needed to allow the nursery to continue for three to four years.”

Parents are concerned their children have moved from a nursery classed as ‘outstanding’ to one that received a ‘satisfactory’ result in its last Ofsted inspection.

Cllr Walton added: “It is the only outstanding nursery in Milton Keynes. It should be helped rather than the council funding a demolition.”

A council spokesman said: “As part of a review of the future management of the eight council run day nurseries, councillors will consider a proposal to merge Russell Street Day Nursery in Stony Stratford with the Rowan’s Day Nursery in nearby Fullers Slade.

“Russell Street Day Nursery has been rated outstanding by Ofsted and the proposed move, which includes the moving of all current staff with it, will ensure that this standard of provision can be maintained.

“The health and safety of children in our care is extremely important to us and the proposed move is intended to provide much improved facilities for children at both nurseries.

“A recent inspection of the Russell Street site identified that extensive works are needed to ensure young children can be cared for in a safe environment. These include repairs to the building’s structure and heating system which is currently not operating to the standard required for babies and young children.

“Options for retaining the Russell Street site have been robustly explored, however, the cost of refurbishment could not be met by the council at this time of significant budget pressures.

“The views of parents, staff and local councillors are being taken into consideration before a final decision is taken.”