The trade unions in Southampton are deliberately misleading and trying to frighten local residents ahead of the local elections on 3rd May. Unions have flooded the city with bill boards suggesting that nurseries are under threat. These bill boards have only been put up in Southampton, Birmingham and London and are part of the union campaign to unseat the current Conservative Council locally and buy an election victory for the Labour Party.
In Southampton nursery provision is NOT under threat and is in fact due to expand dramatically in the coming years to meet the demand resulting from the rising local birth rate and to provide extra support for 2 year olds from disadvantaged families.
Local Conservatives are pledging to create an extra 1,800 nursery places for 2 year olds by 2014 and have pledged to protect all 14 local Sure Start Centres.
We continue to work actively to sustain existing, good quality childcare and assist nurseries to expand, where appropriate to meet this demand, including the nurseries directly managed by the Council.
In the Conservative February Council budget we made revenue provision for expanding places for 2 year olds for 2012/13 and the city received a capital grant from the Department of Education of £3.9M recently which may be used to support the provision of additional places.
The unions should be ashamed of themselves for these despicable tactics. The Conservatives are massively expanding nursery provision in the city and so for the unions to suggest that nurseries are under threat is totally false. They are needlessly worrying local families for their own political ends. Their strikes last year disrupted our bin collections and caused misery for local residents and now they are playing politics with vital services to young children and families.