Nurseries needed

Councillors have called for new nurseries in Bristol as extra hours of free childcare is rolled out to thousands of new parents. Money from property developers could soon be used to set up new nurseries and help meet rising demand for places amid a dire national shortage.

Labour won cross-party support for their motion on using money raised from the community infrastructure levy, charged to developers, to help pay the capital cost of new childcare facilities. This follows a campaign on the issue backed by many Bristol-based organisations.

The plans include recognising childcare as key infrastructure, protecting funding for early years and maintained nurseries, and asking the West of England Combined Authority to give grants to new childcare providers. The motion was carried in a full council meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

Labour Councillor Amal Ali, who put forward the motion, said: “As a Labour councillor and a mother, I want to play my part in helping Bristol’s children get the best start in life. We’ve done a lot on this so far. Marvin Rees’s administration has protected children’s centres and nurseries from Tory austerity. I’m proud of this — other cities have not been so fortunate.

“As with any issue this big, there’s of course more to do. We want this to be at the forefront of everybody’s mind as we move to the committee system.”

Greens successfully tabled an amendment to the motion, with requests to lobby national political party leaders, rather than just the government. 

From this month, working parents of two-year-olds can access 15 hours of free childcare. More changes will come this September and a year later.

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service