Anger over pulled report on childcare

Concern is growing over the council's failure to discuss expansion of local nursery provision.
Concern is growing over the council's failure to discuss expansion of local nursery provision.

SNP councillors are calling for an emergency meeting of North Lanarkshire Council’s education committee after an item on early years provision was pulled from the agenda at its last sitting.

At the meeting on Tuesday, May 21, progress towards the Scottish Government’s target of providing 1140 hours of funded childcare and early learning for every eligible child was due to be covered but on the day convener Frank McNally announced that this would be postponed until September to allow for further talks with providers and trade unions.

The news was met with anger in the public gallery as several representatives of local private nurseries were in attendance.

The SNP group sought to suspend standing orders to force discussion of the latest report on the expansion efforts, but failed to achieve the two-thirds agreement needed for this with 21 votes out of the necessary 27.

SNP group leader Tom Johnston and education spokesperson Agnew Magowan have now written to council bosses seeking an emergency meeting of the committee.

Councillor Johnston said: “This is the second major report on the roll-out of the new Scottish Government nursery expansion to be dropped by the Education Service over the last three regular committee meetings. The council’s trade unions are rightly angry ata umber of inaccuracies in the report. The council’s key partner nurseries feel they are being ignored.

“The council expect the partner nurseries to start 1140 hours provision on August 14. But they have refused all meetings with the partners since March and won’t  meet with them until late June. Parents using the partner nurseries want vital information on hours to be offered and on meal provision.

“It is appalling that Labour will not address their ditched report until September – a full month after the roll-out has started. Labour have voted for chaos.”

Councillor Magowan added: “These issues have been simmering since the first pulled report last November. Back then, members of the Education and Families Committee supported SNP motions calling for regular meetings with parent nurseries and with trade unions, and for access to published records of what was discussed and decided at these various meetings.

“Yet now we see the trade unions state that the pulled report is completely different from what was presented to them during earlier talks with the Education Service.