South East Wales

Protesters march through Pontypridd over education cuts

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Media captionNursery schooling may not start till the age of four under the plan

Around 300 parents and children have marched through Pontypridd in a protest over possible cuts to nursery care and early-years schooling.

Rhondda Cynon Taf council is thinking of cutting full-time free nursery for all three year olds, proposing children start their education later.

The council says it needs to save about £70m over the next four years and is currently consulting on its plans.

But opponents say it will increase poverty and hit education.

Last month, about 100 protestors turned up at the council's Clydach Vale headquarters to demand a rethink on the proposals.

But RCT council says by not admitting children to school in the authority until they are four will save £4.5m a year.

Under the plans, which are open to public consultation until the beginning of December, nursery care provision would be cut from full-time to part-time half-day provision.

'Detrimental affect'

Other services face cuts, including cutting branch libraries from 26 to 12, and reducing day centres from 19 to nine.

The meals-on-wheels service would also be affected, with weekend meals delivered chilled on a Friday.

In October councillors were told that the council needed to save £56m over the next four years, but finance officers say that estimate has now grown to nearer £70m.

Julie Upton, who organised the demonstration through the Facebook website, said she was concerned about the impact the could have on her community.

"I feel that children aged three learn such new things - using a knife and fork, learning their social skills, reading," she said.

"It's such an important time, age three, because they are like sponges, they absorb so much.

"I just think it is going to have such a detrimental affect for the schools."

The issues surrounding cuts across the council will be discussed again on Monday, when the council cabinet meets.

The consultation on the the proposals closes on 2 December.

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