Last hope for nursery hailed as ‘an amazing community’

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[from Islington Tribune]

Islington Tribune – by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 11 July 2008

Parents outside the Andover Early Years Centre this week

Last hope for nursery hailed as ‘an amazing community’

Parents plead for closure reprieve as merger with nearby centre looms

PARENTS will have one last chance to save a Finsbury Park nursery after councillors voted unanimously to close it last week.
A delegation of mothers have pleaded with councillors to keep And­over Early Years Centre open.
But their call fell on deaf ears last Thursday as the Town Hall executive committee backed the closure of the centre on the Andover estate, which is to merge with Mitford centre on the site of the former Hornsey Road baths in Holloway.
Labour group leader Councillor Catherine West told the meeting she would ‘call in’ the decision, giving parents one last chance to make their voices heard at next week’s council  overview committee meeting.
More than 50 children aged up to five, including many with special needs, are cared for at the nursery, due to close in September. It is to be turned into an adventure playground and job training centre.
Lib  Dem education chief Councillor Ursula Woolley said at last week’s meeting: “I know that what we’re proposing is not welcome by the parents that use it. We don’t have enough money to run Andover and Mitford, both in the same small area.”
But parents disagreed. Helen Littleboy, who has a child at Andover, said: “We know our building isn’t in good repair. There’s a history of mismanagement in terms of cost control but we believe this could be handled much better and will undertake to make sure it is.
“For us, Andover’s much more than just a building, it’s an amazing community we just don’t want to lose. We’re told it’s in terrible repair but is it beyond repair?”
Rachel Dixon, who has a son at Andover, added: “Mitford has a balcony. My son has special needs. He learned to walk in Andover’s garden. What’s he going to do on a balcony?
“Andover has 600 square metres of garden. If it is closed, this land will be lost forever as an educational resource. Police have expressed strong concerns about the safety of this site. Leaving a derelict building in the middle of an estate can’t be a good thing.”
Shiri Shalmy, who has lodged a formal complaint to the council about the handling of  the consultation over the closure, said the Mitford centre was not suited to educational needs. “It’s an office building being turned into a nursery,” she added. “On a tour today we were shown how all sorts of additional fencing will have to be added so our children don’t jump over.”
But director of children services Paul Curran assured parents the building was purpose-designed as a children’s centre.

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