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Legal Action In Bid To Save Darlington Kids & Co Nursery

Law Firm Confirms Plan For Judicial Review As Council Agrees To Keep Darlington Nursery Open till August


By Dave Grimshaw

Darlington Borough Council is facing legal action by a worried parent who is concerned she may be forced to quit work if a decision to close Kids & Co nursery goes ahead.

Following a letter from law firm Irwin Mitchell, acting on behalf of a parent whose child attends the nursery, the Council agreed to keep the centre open until August 2013, just five months longer than the originally proposed closure date of March.

However public law specialists from Irwin Mitchell say distraught parents have been left with no choice but to issue court proceedings to seek a Judicial Review of the decision as the nursery is currently still set to close.

Single mum Sarah Walker, 36, says she will have no choice but to give up work to look after her two-year-old son Jacob-Dennis Littlefair as there are no suitable nursery places locally. She has instructed the law firm to take legal action after being unable to find alternative nursery arrangements.

After news of the potential closure first surfaced, local resident Nicola Bales, a financial manager with a child enrolled at Kids & Co presented a ‘rescue plan’ to the council showing how the nursery could be run without a subsidy. However the Council voted to ignore the plan and close the nursery anyway.

A campaign to save the nursery, which has two sites in Borough Road and Northwood, resulted in over 1000 people joining a Facebook group.

Alex Peebles, an expert public lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office representing Sarah, said: “Sadly the Council has left us with no choice but to issue court proceedings to apply for a Judicial Review of their decision to close the nursery. 

“There are 180 childcare places being lost with the closure of Kids & Co and our client is extremely concerned that there simply isn’t enough alternative provision to ensure her son gets a suitable place at another nursery.

“Whilst we are relieved the Council has agreed to keep the nursery open till August, this is still not enough of a commitment and we will continue to fight to save the service on behalf of our clients. Sarah and the other parents have many unanswered questions and we hope that a Judicial Review would provide the necessary answers and help to keep Kids & Co open.”

Sarah Walker, from Darlington, said: “We were simply devastated when the closure was announced and although it will now stay open until August, I still have massive concerns about finding a suitable nursery for Jacob. We feel that the Council has ignored the concerns and ideas of the parents as to how this nursery could become viable.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Public and Administrative Law.