Parents lose fight to save Kilburn children’s centre from closure

Camden Council accused of ignoring pleas to keep it open

Parents have lost a hard- fought battle to save a children’s centre, rated outstanding by Ofsted, from closure.

Camden Council’s executive rubber stamped controversial plans to axe Acol Children’s Centre in Acol Road, Kilburn, last week in a move to slash �550,000 from its early year’s budget.

The centre will close in September 2012, leaving around 15 toddlers in need of a nursery place elsewhere.

The decision is a blow for dozens parents who have campaigned fiercely to keep the centre open.

Among them is Penny Leichti, a mum of two from Solent Road, Kilburn. She said: “We are extremely disappointed and very upset because it has been such a hard fought campaign to get the council to reverse the decision.

“I still feel it is a real loss for the local community to have such a fantastic and well respected Sure Start centre set to close.”

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More than 3,000 people responded to a consultation on the proposed closure of Acol. Only three agreed with it.

However, in an important concession to parents, the council has agreed to look into bringing in a voluntary group or a not-for-profit provider to take over the running of the nursery, and retain the building for community use.

Welcoming this compromise, Ms Liechti said: “We want to find a community partner to continue the running of the nursery.

“It is a well equipped building so it is perfect for anybody looking to set up a community nursery.”

Ms Liechti said she was hopeful a provider could be found quickly, meaning that there would be no gap between when the council stopped funding it and the take over.

Cllr Larraine Revah said the decision to axe Acol ‘had not been easy’, but that deep Government funding cuts left the council with no other option.

However, the process to find a new provider to take over the running of the nurseries can begin immediately, she added.