Darlington Borough Council faces legal action over closure of Kids and Co nurseries

DARLINGTON Borough Council is facing legal action over its decision to close its Kids and Co nursery service.

Both Unison, which is acting on behalf of the 37 Kids and Co staff who face losing their jobs, and a parent are seeking a Judicial Review in the High Court of the council's decision.

The union has not yet finalised its legal proceedings but the parent has already instructed a private solicitor and copies of a written notification of legal proceedings were presented to members of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee at a special meeting this evening (Thursday, January 31).

The notice was served after a majority of the committee voted against sending the closure decision back to cabinet for reconsideration, sparking anger from parents and Kids and Co staff in the public gallery.

The legal action is based on claims that the council’s 90-day consultation into the future of the two nurseries was flawed and that the decision to close the service at Borough Road and Northwood was made without the cabinet having vital facts and figures.

This includes the omission of any comprehensive evidence to prove there are enough nursery places in Darlington without Kids and Co.

In addition, parents and Unison representatives claim that a business plan put forward by parent and financial manager Nicola Bales, which showed that the nurseries could break even if fees were increased, was not fully considered by the cabinet.

Speaking at the scrutiny meeting, Gill Toward of Unison questioned why the council had allowed the service to run at a £212,000 annual loss when Kids and Co managers had raised their concerns in 2010 and asked for help to make the service more viable.

She accused the council of failing Kids and Co, adding: “The council has a responsibility to make sure that nursery providers are sustainable, what has happened is that there is a deficit and the council wants rid of it.”

Murray Rose, director of people services said it was not the council’s responsibility to ensure the sustainability of child care services – only that there were enough places to meet the needs of children within the borough.

The council, which needs to cut £17m from its budget by 2016/17, has seven days to respond the legal challenge.

More Darlington Borough Council News

Comments (6)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

5:10am Fri 1 Feb 13

BMD says...

Parents must review their priorities,

After all, the Council is providing wheelie bins for the full community.
Parents must review their priorities, After all, the Council is providing wheelie bins for the full community. BMD
  • Score: 0

8:36am Fri 1 Feb 13

kimbo666 says...

its an absolute disgrace the way its all been handled, i would pay the extra for my little girl to carry on going to kids and co as its the only place i trust. The staff are second to none and my little girl is so happy there. I cant put her into another nursery as i cant pick her and my son up from 2 different places at the same time. Keep your crappy wheelie bins and pathetically over decorated roundabouts and put the money into something thats actually usefull like "kids n co"
its an absolute disgrace the way its all been handled, i would pay the extra for my little girl to carry on going to kids and co as its the only place i trust. The staff are second to none and my little girl is so happy there. I cant put her into another nursery as i cant pick her and my son up from 2 different places at the same time. Keep your crappy wheelie bins and pathetically over decorated roundabouts and put the money into something thats actually usefull like "kids n co" kimbo666
  • Score: 0

9:17am Fri 1 Feb 13

BMD says...

I am sorry kimbo666, but you are not seeing the big picture and you are only thinking of your family’s education and most likely earning a living to pay your council tax.

The Councilors have higher priorities than the welfare and education of young children; there is a current financial crisis and a shortfall in funding. The Councilors have to juggle the cuts in services and maintain their own expenses, funding the Labour Party, introducing worthless Major Capital Projects, increasing the cycle lane network and ensuring their perks are not hindered.

As for the introduction of the Wheelie Bins, this will reduce the weekly collection to fortnightly, thus attracting more Rats’, Fly's and Cockroaches; which in turn will increase the need for pest control officers.
The roundabouts need to keep the level of horticultural design, as it is soothing for the Councilors as they arrive for their meetings at the town hall.

A Councilors life isn’t all roses.
I am sorry kimbo666, but you are not seeing the big picture and you are only thinking of your family’s education and most likely earning a living to pay your council tax. The Councilors have higher priorities than the welfare and education of young children; there is a current financial crisis and a shortfall in funding. The Councilors have to juggle the cuts in services and maintain their own expenses, funding the Labour Party, introducing worthless Major Capital Projects, increasing the cycle lane network and ensuring their perks are not hindered. As for the introduction of the Wheelie Bins, this will reduce the weekly collection to fortnightly, thus attracting more Rats’, Fly's and Cockroaches; which in turn will increase the need for pest control officers. The roundabouts need to keep the level of horticultural design, as it is soothing for the Councilors as they arrive for their meetings at the town hall. A Councilors life isn’t all roses. BMD
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Fri 1 Feb 13

Alan Macnab says...

I observed the meeting last night which decided to close Kids and Co. I was shocked and apalled with the decision when it was clear that the officers were told two years ago by Kids and Co that there were financial problems building up and nothing was done. The Council's Medium Term Financial Plan last year did not indicate that there were any problems with Kids and Co. Kids and Co could have been financially viable if the Council had prepared a business case and the will to address the financial difficulties by engaging with a private provider, but they chose not to do so both. All these facts and others rebutting the Council's case were brought out last night and yet the Labour Councillors on the Committee decided not to refer it back to Cabinet when the case to do so was clearly made. The decision was very wrong and now the Council are faced with legal bills which it cannot afford. The decision was not just wrong it was very wrong.
I observed the meeting last night which decided to close Kids and Co. I was shocked and apalled with the decision when it was clear that the officers were told two years ago by Kids and Co that there were financial problems building up and nothing was done. The Council's Medium Term Financial Plan last year did not indicate that there were any problems with Kids and Co. Kids and Co could have been financially viable if the Council had prepared a business case and the will to address the financial difficulties by engaging with a private provider, but they chose not to do so both. All these facts and others rebutting the Council's case were brought out last night and yet the Labour Councillors on the Committee decided not to refer it back to Cabinet when the case to do so was clearly made. The decision was very wrong and now the Council are faced with legal bills which it cannot afford. The decision was not just wrong it was very wrong. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 0

1:41pm Fri 1 Feb 13

Lifetime Townie says...

It's quite obvious that the cabinet have their own agenda on every subject and the residents views don't matter one scrap. These are the Councillors that we voted in to manage our town for the benefit of the residents. We have seen recent comments like "there are no sacred cows" in the budget cuts proposals but when we look at the wheelie bin fiasco, town center fringe project and refurbishment of the Dolphin Center Gym we can see that the scared cows comment is just more nonsense from the town hall.
It's quite obvious that the cabinet have their own agenda on every subject and the residents views don't matter one scrap. These are the Councillors that we voted in to manage our town for the benefit of the residents. We have seen recent comments like "there are no sacred cows" in the budget cuts proposals but when we look at the wheelie bin fiasco, town center fringe project and refurbishment of the Dolphin Center Gym we can see that the scared cows comment is just more nonsense from the town hall. Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 0

10:28am Sat 2 Feb 13

Gamechanger says...

As ever these so-called local representatives are putting politics before people. We do not want or need councillors of such a poor calibre. We will remember their mistakes at the ballot box.
As ever these so-called local representatives are putting politics before people. We do not want or need councillors of such a poor calibre. We will remember their mistakes at the ballot box. Gamechanger
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree