Newcastle City Council axe set to fall on childcare services

GREENS candidate Therese Doyle says plans by Newcastle City Council to rid itself of essential not-for-profit childcare centres will trigger an increase in fees and may result in job cuts.

A proposal in a report by council staff recommending the “gifting” of the seven council-owned centres will be considered at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The report will recommend buildings and land be gifted to childcare service operators at Hamilton and Maryland in October, with other centres subject to handovers in following months.

“Council plans to “gift” the community-run centres will result in affordability issues and may spark massive fee-hikes and staff job-cuts,” said Ms Doyle.

“Council’s senior management has acted with undue haste to rid itself of any responsibility for childcare  services and simply wish to transfer costs back onto those who can least afford it,” the Ward 2 candidate in next month’s Newcastle City Council elections said.

Ms Doyle says that while council resolved in April to form a working party with directors and committee delegates from the community-run childcare centres to review options for leasing or gifting, in reality “gifting” appears to have been the only option seriously considered.

“Management teams at the centres and councillors are being asked to put an awful lot of trust onto senior council officers to work out the logistics of this proposed “gifting” with no guarantees that the centres will have any guidance to ensure their survival,” she said.

“The community-run centres have not yet been told what their liability will be for stamp-duty and have only vague assurances about support for major maintenance costs.

“With the transfer of deeds to these not-for-profit centres, full council rates will now be added to the costs levied on parents. It’s an unnecessary impost,” Ms Doyle said.

Ms Doyle says the Newcastle Greens believe the Newcastle City Council has a responsibility to ensure that the needs of its community are met and that childcare services are an essential part of community service.

“The council will be abrogating its responsibility to oversee the provision of adequate childcare, an essential local community service in Newcastle, if it allows the proposal to proceed,” declared Ms Doyle.

“Community run not-for-profit childcare centres have proved a highly successful model of delivery of relatively affordable childcare around the state.

“In most cases these centres pay a low rental lease and receive support from their local councils in the form of relevant operational advice and the provision of pooled maintenance,” Ms Doyle said.

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For more information or comment, contact Therese Doyle on 0434 257 892.

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