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Carlton Hill Nursery: Plans to double Maida Vale nursery's rent are 'insane' says MP

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 August 2019

Carlton Hill Nursery School

Carlton Hill Nursery School

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Parents could be priced out of childcare in Maida Vale as Westminster City Council looks to double the rent for one nursery.

Carlton Hill Nursery has been told in its latest rent review that it should be paying £120,000 rather than its current £60,000, according to Westminster North MP Karen Buck.

The centre is run by the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), a registered charity and social enterprise that offers a subsidy to parents on lower incomes.

Maida Vale councillor Geoff Barraclough's daughter attended the nursery for two years more than a decade ago.

He was part of a campaign against its proposed closure in 2005 by the council, due to "ongoing losses". At the time, the nursery won a stay of execution.

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Cllr Barraclough said: "You can do the maths. There's about 60 kids in the nursery. That's £1,000 extra per kid. There is a real risk it could end up pricing people out of it. Childcare in London generally is already eye-poppingly expensive - the most expensive in Europe."

Ms Buck has called the mooted change "insane". She has written to the town hall asking it to change its mind. "It is insane for a council that has an obligation for the running of childcare to do this," she said. "It is common sense not to treat all these properties as if they are letting to Coutts Bank or Harrods.

"They are there to ensure there is affordable childcare provision. I know these are hard choices but the council should be considering ways to avoid this."

One parent, Jonathan Teyssandier, who has an 18-month-old daughter at the nursery, praised its "excellent" care and was concerned about the effects if the increase went ahead.

June O'Sullivan, LEYF's CEO, said: "We want to work with Westminster City Council estates and children's services to continue our long and socially important relationship with Westminster and its families."

A spokesperson for the council said it "heavily subsidised nursery places across the borough", adding: "Carlton Hill Nursery has always been different due to its location and the large number of private customers.

"We don't think it's appropriate to use public money to subsidise that."

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