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‘This will destroy life chances’: Camden parents march to Crowndale Centre to protest planned nursery closures

PUBLISHED: 12:33 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:31 04 March 2020

Parents are fighting to save Gospel Oak, Hampden, Kilburn Grange and Konstam nurseries. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Parents are fighting to save Gospel Oak, Hampden, Kilburn Grange and Konstam nurseries. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Archant

Aggrieved Camden parents marched to the Crowndale Centre on Monday in protest at the planned closures of four nurseries.

Three-year-old Gospel Oak Nursery pupil Mila Manchanda. Picture: Yami Manchanda-CorlessThree-year-old Gospel Oak Nursery pupil Mila Manchanda. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Gospel Oak, Hampden, Kilburn Grange and Konstam nurseries could be shut down if Camden Council's proposals to alter its early-years education services are approved.

Camden is planning to turn the nurseries into Sure Start children's centres and transfer affected pupils into other nurseries.

But parents at the protest on March 2 - supported by Camden Unison - say the plans will damage their children's education at a critical stage of their development, and that any repurposed facilities will represent a step down on existing provision.

Yami Manchanda-Corless, 26, whose three-year-old daughter attends Gospel Oak Nursery, said: "We feel like the council is finally listening to us but we are not really willing to negotiate with any lesser proposal.

Hugo Pierre, of Camden Unison, speaking at the protest. Picture: Yami Manchanda-CorlessHugo Pierre, of Camden Unison, speaking at the protest. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

"We want our nurseries to stay open or to have like-for-like provision - there must be no compromise.

"We are not going to accept a solution that works for some but not the rest, we need a solution that works for all of the children."

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Following the protest, Camden's early-years proposals were discussed at full council.

Gospel Oak Nursery parent, Yami Manchanda-Corless, who organised the demonstration. Picture: Yami Manchanda-CorlessGospel Oak Nursery parent, Yami Manchanda-Corless, who organised the demonstration. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Hugo Pierre, of Camden Unison, said: "This will destroy life chances and worsen achievement for our children.

"In the areas you are cutting there will not be enough places for these three and four year olds.

"I implore you to see reason and halt these plans to close the nurseries - they provide a very high standard of care."

Cllr Angela Mason, Camden's education chief, said the council remained committed to "the Camden offer" and that "all parents of three and four year olds will have access to 30 hours of education a week".

"At the moment we have something like 80 providers all competing for the same group of children - that doesn't make sense," Cllr Mason said.

"I have committed to what I call the 'as good' principle, that nobody should have new provision which is not as good as what they had before."

The consultation period for Camden's early years proposals closed on February 12, with a decision expected on April 1.

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