An angry confrontation has erupted over West Lothian Council’s decision to remove funding from a private nursery in Linlithgow.
The council reviewed the requirement for nursery provision in the burgh and came to the conclusion that, because there are unused places available within its own establishments, there was no need for the current number of privately funded places.
One mum who spoke to the Journal & Gazette, Rachel Hay, said: “What the council doesn’t seem to understand is that its nurseries do not offer the same flexibility that the private sector does.
“I’m a working mum and using a council nursery only provides me with two and a half hours of provision per day as they’ll only offer me either a morning or afternoon session.
‘‘That’s hopeless as I then need to find alternative ways of making sure my child can be dropped off before I go to work or collected at the end of the session.
“The other problem is that the only private nursery chosen by the council, First Adventures, is full, so I cannot place my child anywhere with the flexibility to allow me to continue working while they are cared for .”
A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “A planned tendering process was recently carried out to secure a partner private nursery to provide additional mainstream pre-school capacity in the Linlithgow area.
“The existing contract is due to end in June and we are legally required to tender in line with Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and the standard regulations on council contracts over £30,000 in value.
“Three tenders were received and assessed, with First Adventures Nursery being awarded the contract in line with procurement best practice.
‘‘Donaldson’s Nursery was unsuccessful in its tender and, as this is currently in the legal standstill process, it is not appropriate to comment further.
“There are three council-run nurseries in Linlithgow, one of which offers wraparound care, and significant unused physical capacity exists.
‘‘Council policy is not to enter into partnership where there are sufficient places in council establishments.
“Given this capacity and the availability of wraparound care, only one private nursery partner is necessary to ensure we have enough places and to provide options for flexibility and choice.
“We aim to balance the need to make the most effective use of public resources in the current financial climate, while offering choice for parents above our statutory requirements.”
Donaldson’s nursery has indicated it intends to appeal the council’s decision to withdraw its funding.