Fate of “lifeline” Paisley nursery could be decided this week as crunch talks go ahead



The fate of a “lifeline” Paisley nursery could be decided this week as unions meet with college bosses for crunch talks.

Campaigners have been fighting to save the on-campus nursery at the Renfrew Road college for months following the announcement the college planned to scrap it.

Politicians, unions, staff, and parents who use the facility are calling for the plans to close the “lifeline” to be reconsidered, and are now meeting with college bosses this week to discuss a counter proposal.

Union bosses say nurseries have provided a vital service to their local communities for decades, with some parents hailing the nursery for enabling them to pursue further education.

However, West College Scotland has previously said that “difficult decisions” were being considered as the nurseries were currently “loss-making”.

Amy McDonald, vice principal of operations at West College Scotland previously said: “These proposals have not been taken lightly and are endorsed by the college’s Board of Management.

“The college sector across Scotland is facing increasing pressure with regards to funding.

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“To ensure financial sustainability, West College Scotland is having to consider taking tough decisions now – regarding loss-making services that are not central to our education provision – in order to safeguard jobs and learning over the longer-term.”

A protest previously took place outside the Paisley site, with angry parents and staff gathering to show their support.

Unions are now calling on WCS to “do the right thing” as the crunch talks prepare to go ahead.

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Lorcan Mullen, UNISON Scotland’s head of higher and further education, said: “Unison and Unite are supporting the families and dedicated early years workers in their fight to save these much-loved nurseries, and this week is when college management will decide their fate.

“The college has repeatedly called the nurseries loss-making, but it is normal for support services in the education sector to be cross-subsidised by income from teaching and commercial activity.

“At our recent demonstrations in Paisley and Greenock, we heard moving accounts from multiple generations of student parents who could not have returned to education without these nurseries. We heard from passionate early years professionals desperate to keep doing the job they love, in services with a proud track record.

“We urge Liz Connolly and her team to stand by their workforce, parents and students, and do the right thing – save these vital services from closure.”

Politicians have also thrown support behind the campaign, with West of Scotland Labor MSP Katy Clark calling on the Scottish Government to ensure West College Scotland (WCS) engages with staff proposals to save the nursery.

Commenting on the proposals to cut the nursery, Ms Clark said: “These rushed proposals are devastating for students and local parents who rely on the nursery.

“Describing nurseries as ‘loss-making’ misses the point entirely. In many cases, students wouldn’t be able to attend college and learn new skills without on-campus childcare.

“It’s clear from the public response, the nursery is valued as an essential service for the local community, but virtually no-one was even notified until the closures had been agreed.

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“I appreciate colleges face huge financial pressures due to the constraints imposed by the Scottish Government, but services like childcare and catering should be regarded as vital.

“Management must engage with the alternative proposals submitted by staff and their unions, and the Scottish Government must intervene to ensure that happens.”

A spokesperson for West College Scotland said: “The College continues to hold twice weekly discussions with representatives of the trade unions as part of the ongoing constructive consultation process. A counter proposal offered by the unions is being thoroughly assessed and will be the subject of scheduled discussions with them later this week.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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