FURIOUS families have launched a desperate campaign to get the Government to change their mind over the closure of their popular children’s nursery.
Shocked staff and parents of youngsters attending award-winning Hector’s House at the local Centre 1 tax office were stunned to learn last week that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have taken the decision to end the contract with the company who have provided nursery care there for the past 14 years – in just three months.
The decision has left too little time for the nursery company, Bright Horizons, to find alternatively premises to what was a purpose-build nursery at Centre 1.
So around 90 families are now faced with a frantic scramble to find alternative nursery care for their children before the closure on November 30.
In a bid to get HMRC to change their minds, they have launched an on-line petition.
They have also inundated local politicians, their union and anyone else they believe might support their case with appeals for help.
They claim the reasons given by HMRC for the closure of Hector’s House and seven other nurseries at tax offices in the UK are “spurious” and are simply a means by the Government to save money – despite the fact that, before the last General Election, they claim the Tory Party promised, if elected, to be a “family friendly” government.
Local MP Michael McCann has pledged to do everything in his power to help the parents in their campaign.
He has written a letter of protest to HMRC management and to the Government Minister responsible for HMRC, David Gauke MP.
This week he told the News: “This decision is appalling and I oppose it wholeheartedly.
“Hector’s House Nursery has served HMRC staff and their families very well for the last 14 years. There have been no complaints about it in that time, while parents have grown to like and trust the staff.
“The timing of the decision and the period of notice make it extremely difficult for parents to make alternative arrangements. If earlier notice had been given, or a longer period of notice, staff could have sought out other childcare places prior to the summer holidays when they may have been more readily available.
“To find alternative nursery care in 90 days and at this time of year, is almost impossible.
“I am also not convinced by the reason put forth for the closure.
“HMRC are apparently suggesting that nursery numbers are dropping. My information is there are waiting lists.
“In addition, HMRC state the bulk of the parents using the nurseries are not employees. Again I beg to differ. I understand 80 per cent of users are employed by Centre 1.
“In my opinion, the Government are trying to save money while jeopardising the welfare of children. This makes a mockery of their manifesto pledge to "Make Britain the most family friendly country in Europe".
“I have sent a list of questions to those responsible for this decision and have asked them to do the decent thing and reconsider.
“In the meantime I will be helping my constituents in any way I can at this stressful time for them.”