New Nursery Benefits From Newham Council Backing

Newham's council-backed nursery will provide free childcare to eligible families. But at what cost to existing providers?

Newham Council has approved plans for a council-backed nursery in the borough. Trading under the name of Early Start Education Ltd, the new nursery will benefit from a council loan of £325,000. In return, the council will own 49 per cent of the nursery, with the majority stake held by an employee ownership trust.

Early Start Education Ltd is due to open for business early in 2017. It will cater for children up to the age of four, providing 15 hours of free childcare in line with national government guidelines. For eligible families this allocation will be increased to 30 hours by autumn 2017.

The director of Early Start Education is Justin Elder, a Newham council officer who serves as Strategic Attendance Lead at the Newham Traveler Education Service. Announcing council support for the nursery, Mr Elder said: “It is a great opportunity to further drive up standards of childcare in Newham and as a joint-owned employee trust we will really be able to value and reward our staff.”

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, commented: “There is a clear gap in the market for high quality childcare especially with our growing young population.”

There is a concern that privately owned nurseries in the borough may be disadvantaged by the council-backed facility. Newham Council did not comment when Rising East first raised this issue.

In the minutes (record of meetings) published by the council, there is no indication of consultation with existing childcare providers.