Children lose fight to save nursery

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The Independent Online
A NURSERY at the centre of a High Court row is to be sold today after six children lost a legal battle to save it from closure.

The children, two of them just under three years old and the oldest four-and-a-half, have lost their appeal against Barnet council, which can now go ahead and close Kingswood nursery, based in a large Victorian house in one of Finchley's most prestigious roads. The children will be moved from the nursery today. The council hopes to raise pounds 400,000 from the sale.

The children will be moved to a temporary nursery in Southgate until a new nursery is built. Four-year-old Wayne Hurloll, one of the six children forced to move out of Kingswood, does not like the Southgate nursery and does not want to go: 'There is nothing to play with there. There is only a seesaw, a rocking horse and only one barrel.'

Wayne is hyperactive and lives on the 14th floor of a tower block. His mother, Heather Lang, said yesterday's ruling was 'gutting'. 'To take the nursery away is criminal,' she said.

The parents had argued that Barnet failed to consult them properly about the closure, which was first proposed earlier this year. A second consultation in the summer was a sham, they claimed, because the council had already made its decision.

They had also argued that the council had failed to take their children's needs into account as required under the Children Act and that the council was acting beyond its powers in making the decision on cost grounds alone.

The council originally intended to close the nursery in March, but agreed to postpone the closure until September because of parents' protests.

Mr Justice Auld, who heard the case, argued that the council had fulfilled its duties to talk to the parents by holding the second consultation.

The children's solicitor, Susan Eskinazi, said the case had highlighted the need for councils to consult service users.

Barbara Langstone, chairman of Barnet's social services committee, said that the council had been vindicated by the judgment. 'I'm pleased with the result but somewhat sorry the people judged it worthwhile to take it to court. There has been a lot of time and public money wasted in my view,' she said.

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