Beds, Herts & Bucks

Council-run nurseries in Milton Keynes to be privatised

Milton Keynes Council is inviting bids from business to run five of its nurseries in the town.

Those affected are Wolverton, Little Chestnuts, Fledglings, Westcroft and Russell Street day nurseries.

The council wants to save nearly £217,000 it spent subsiding them in the last financial year.

Parents have campaigned against privatisation but the council said this plan would be a better outcome than closing them down.

'Important service'

Council nurseries were set up by the local authority in Milton Keynes council about 25 years ago.

Conservative council leader Andrew Geary said: "We came to the conclusion that there was no way that these nurseries should close. They are providing an important service but they are not what we call a council core service.

"Look across the country at all the local authorities and how many are in the business of running day nurseries - [there are] less than 30.

"The evidence around Milton Keynes is that the council are not the cheapest - there are actually nurseries that provide day care provision cheaper than the council do."

Parents who like council-run nurseries say they feel that staff are more experienced.

Louise Ramplin, whose daughter goes to Westcroft Day Nursery, said: "The staff have better remuneration packages, hence lower staff turnover and better attention. We didn't feel that the private sector provided that."

Amanda Marlow, whose children attended Little Chestnuts in West Bletchley, said: "At this stage we can only push to find a private provider that's going to follow the ethos our current nursery has, to keep our staff and to keep it running the way it's been running."

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