Stockton North’s Labour MP, Alex Cunningham, today won a pledge from Education Minister, Sam Gyimah MP, to intervene in the row over the decision by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to close two hospital nurseries with the loss of dozens of places and more than 50 full and part time jobs.
Alex raised the issue in a debate in Parliament on the future of nursery schools. He asked the Minister if he would urge his officials to contact the Trust to see what advice and other help could be offered to save the two nurseries from closure.
The announcement to close the nurseries was made late last week and came as a complete surprise to parents and employees – who have already mounted a social media and wider campaign to stop the closures going ahead.
“The closure plans appeared to be announced out of the blue and I am concerned about the loss of this provision described as good on both sites by Ofsted inspectors. I have written a letter to the Chief Executive of the Trust, Alan Foster, posing a range of questions about how the closure has been handled.
“The trust writes of a consultation, but it appears that the decision has already been taken without any prior discussions with staff or parents.
“I was therefore delighted that the Minister promised me, during the debate in Parliament today, that he would examine what may be able to be done to save the nurseries.”
During the debate Pat Glass, Labour MP for North West Durham, said she was disappointed at the decision as the nurseries were held up as an example of best practice, whilst the Chair of the Education Committee, Tory MP Graham Stuart, said the Trust needed to listen to the arguments against closure.
“Parents, employees and Unison are already working hard on the campaign to save the nurseries, and I am sure the intervention of the Minister will be very welcome.”
The Trust has said it will close the nurseries at the end of the year.