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Anger at plans to close Kilburn

PUBLISHED: 16:32 18 February 2011 | UPDATED: 16:32 18 February 2011

Fightback: Penny Liechti is angry at plans to close Acol Children's Centre

Fightback: Penny Liechti is angry at plans to close Acol Children's Centre

jan nevill

Dozens of babies and toddlers face having their care disrupted as the children’s centre they attend faces closure.

Acol Children’s Centre, in Acol Road, Kilburn, has been praised as ‘outstanding’ by the government inspectorate Ofsted, which singled out safety and education as the centre as examples of best practice.

But despite its popularity, the oversubscribed centre, which includes a nursery, after school club, and health advice for families, could close in the summer as Camden Council unveils plans to cut £3.2 million from early years’ services.

Concerned parents labelled the plans a ‘disgrace’ and have pledged to fight them.

Penny Liechti, 38, of Solent Rd, Kilburn, whose 2-year-old daughter Eva goes to Acol’s nursery, said: “Everyone I have spoken to is furious and I am very upset.

“Acol is a facility which is really, really needed. The staff are fantastic and really care for the children, and now they are all going to lose their jobs.”

Mrs Liechti has set up a Facebook group to fight the plans, and in a letter she is handing to parents outside the centre’s gates, adds: “Please help – we can’t just roll over and let this happen. We need as many of us as possible to take part and present a really strong case to the council.”

Parents were told on Monday that the centre is likely to close in May following consultation.

Kilburn has seen a significant rise in young families living in the area, and the nurseries at all three alternative children’s centres – Kilburn Grange, Langtry and Granville Plus – are full.

Cllr Mike Katz (Labour: Kilburn ward), who is married to Mrs Liechti, has raised concerns that the closure could leave Kilburn’s parents having to travel outside the area to access nursery care.

He said: “All the staff at Acol are great and I know that my daughter really enjoys going there. Their success shines through in their outstanding Ofsted report.

“I am concerned there are levels of demand that we won’t be able reach in the Kilburn area, and I will be lobbying the council to take into account the spread of children’s centres across the borough.”

Guy Daly, 40, who works as an estate agent in Kilburn, has a 2-year-old son who goes to the centre.

He said: “I am really angry. The centre has been here for 23 years, it is a fantastic nursery, and I am disgusted that they are cutting back on children’s education. I is a disgrace”

Councillor Heather Johnson, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families, blamed the closure on Government funding cuts.

She said: “I know lots of people will be worried about how to access services but we will offer everyone the assistance they need to find alternative services.

“This is a very hard decision to have to make and no decision will be made without very careful consideration.”


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