Despite an active and passionate campaign which won the support of many local people, politicians including MP Richard Burden and Councillor Reg Corns and political activists such as Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts, Miles Weaver and Winnie Flanagan, Merrishaw Community Day Nursery in West Heath has been closed.
The campaign included a petition, a protest walk and an open day with an open invitation to local councillors to try and prevent the closure.
A final push for a last minute reprieve from Birmingham City Council, with support from Councillor Reg Corns, failed to win a postponement with a view to further consultation.
The nursery closed on Friday 27th August and was boarded up on Tuesday. Ian Cruise, Labour councillor for neighbouring Longbridge Cllr Ian Cruise tweeted the above image along with the words “A sad day as workmen board up Merrishaw Community Day Nursery in West Heath. A relic of the cuts.”
The closure will see service users having to place their children in other nurseries. As the two closest educational nurseries are full with up to a two year waiting list, this will mean a significant amount of travel for some. Some of the younger children have also been offered places in private day nurseries some distance from their homes.
Parent Vanessa Godsill, who helped to organise the campaign against closure, described the emotional impact of the final day at Merrishaw. “I am so sad. Friday was a really difficult day as children said goodbye to friends and parents and staff all got together for the final time. I dont think the powers above really appreciate what a little community Merrishaw had – there was not a dry eye in the room as parents, staff and children met for the last time as they had a graduation party. I really am gutted.” she said.
Vanessa added, “We have a meeting on 5/09/11 with the Local Authority Managers to make them aware of our concerns.”
We asked Councillor Corns and Councillor Lawrence for comments.
Councillor Reg Corns sent us the following statement, in which he expresses how he feels that Northfield Ward does not receive its fair share of council funding for facilities for children and young people:
It is a matter of record that for many years now there has NOT been a fair and equitable distribution of funding to accommodate facilities for all children in this City and my ward has been much the loser, from babies up to teenager level for nursery facilities, youth facilities, youth workers and play areas for example.
My fellow Cllrs have made a large impact into the installation of play areas and the use of our community chest money to finance youth work and help with nursery provision where we can . Much of this work should have been financed by Children and young peoples services. The problem being so many of these facilities were put in place many years ago and are now very much entrenched.
There is therefore, an argument that too many such resources are used elsewhere in the city at the expense of Northfield Ward . Documentation supports this. As one researches where all such facilities are situated, especially council run Nursery classes, Nursery schools and Children’s Centres. There are or were 280 such facilities in the Forty wards. Northfield ward will have just two such facilities left if Merrishaw finally closes.
As a result of the Merrishaw intended closure, I have requested some answers from the City. The last thing I want to see is more such closures of such local facilities.
I realise we are dealing with austerity measures nationally and this is impacting on all services locally and I know this has to happen to prevent the level of national debt being passed on to the very children who use these facilities.
But let us have fairness in our City.