I got this letter published in Barnet Times on 19 March:
Nursery gives rights to children and adults
“I’ve been concerned for some time about children’s rights to early education being breached for the 16 children using Valley Pre-school in Dollis Valley. That community nursery has been told its home is being demolished (to make way for the rebuilding of the estate), and must close at the Easter break, for good. A commercial nursery has been offered the contract for the estate, but that won’t open until the new academic year at the earliest.
“Lawyers approached over the six month void in vital education for a deprived community, believe that there are grounds for challenge, but they need paying. Which parent, entitled to legal aid, will bring the challenge? There aren’t many. Working people don’t qualify for legal aid (any more). Valley pre-school’s parents work. Why? Because Valley Pre-school offers its parents whichever hours they need (including morning-through-afternoon blocks to make whole days) at rock-bottom prices. No commercial nursery will make that kind of offer, or do so affordably.
“It looks as if it’s not only the children’s rights, but also adults’ ability to work that are in jeopardy!”
Since that letter was published, the nursery parents became so concerned they have occupied the nursery. They have continued offering their fellow parents and children a place of play and enjoy each others’ company. I visited them yesterday, the first full day of the occupation and the man from the council visited. He was friendly and wished us well.
On Sunday I went along to meet our MP Theresa Villiers who was visiting the nursery. She still has some considerable clout, and she promised to talk to the parties with a say in these matters – Barnet council with a view to sorting out this unholy mess!
Lets hope that her efforts on the one hand, and the occupation on the other will get the job done!