A FORFAR mother who campaigned for the retention of the threatened crèche facilities at Angus Council’s leisure facilities is “over the moon” the service will be retained.
Exactly a week to the day after Laura Cameron contacted the “Dispatch and Herald” to express fears about the rumoured axing of the service, she spoke of her relief that the Angus Alliance had revealed in its budget last Thursday that it had shelved plans to close crèche facilities.
Announcing the news in the council chamber, finance spokesperson councillor Mark Salmond said: “The Angus Alliance recognises the delivery of efficiency savings is a key consideration of the budget process and this will be a continuing consideration in future years.
“Our record to date demonstrates that we will not be fearful about seeking efficiency savings from all services as they are essential to constructing a balanced and sustainable budget.”
It was these efficiency savings that sparked fears last week that the crèche facilities would be among the casualties of the budget, but Councillor Salmond brought some good news to leisure centre users who had rallied round to launch an on-line petition to save them.
Councillor Salmond continued: “As we are a listening administration we have also carefully considered the more detailed comments submitted through the consultation when preparing the budget.
“As a result we have decided not to proceed with some of the budget saving proposals identified by officers.
“This means subsidised crèches will remain in sports centres.”
He stated this would be “welcome news” for the Facebook group who fought for the retention of the service, and apologised for any anxiety caused.
He said: “Had the budget papers issued to elected members on Friday been available to the public she (the campaign leader) would have seen that the administration share their opposition to this particular proposal and it does not feature in our proposed budget.
“I apologise for the un-necessary anxiety this caused but I am pleased to see the value that so many leisure centre users place on this service.
“They can all be assured that it will continue for the lifetime of this administration.”
Welcoming the news, Laura said she was relieved to hear the service will be retained.
She said: “I’m over the moon that the facility won’t be axed. It’s a brilliant service that works well for both parents and the children.
“We had an overwhelming response within such a short space of time and hopefully this has also provided some publicity for the service allowing other parents who were unaware of the service to use it as well.
“The community really pulled together and everyone did their bit and it worked - an amazing response.”
Her jubilation was shared be fellow campaigner Victoria Wylie who said she was “absolutely delighted” with the council’s decision.
She said: “It just goes to show that people really do have a voice when it comes to campaigning on issues they are passionate about.
“I just hope that, on the back of all this publicity, the profile of the crèche has been raised and that more people will use these excellent facilities to help secure their future beyond the current council administration.
“People do need to realise that if the facilities are not used they are in danger of losing them.”