A CAMPAIGN to to stop the last local authority run nursery from being closed in Bolton was given a massive boost as councillors backed moves to explore ways of keeping it open.

Town hall chiefs had put forward proposals to shut Harvey Nursery in Great Lever, three years after it was saved following a public outcry.

The closure of the nursery will result in around 50 children having to be found alternative provision and the loss of jobs.

Martin Donaghy, the Labour group’s children’s services spokesman, gained support from a sizeable majority of Bolton Council after the matter had been called in by Labour members to be scrutinised further.

His motion called for the decision be referred to full council for a full consideration, including exploring the financial options, and then being referred back to the executive cabinet member for further consideration.

Conservative Cllr John Walsh opposed the motion and called for the closure plans to go to consultation.

He said: “By not charging rent of just under £50,000, having service costs of £62,000 and a projected deficit of £103,000 it comes to a loss per year of over £200,000.

“The management group set up has failed to come with adequate and proper solutions.

“Usage is lower now than in 2017 from 300 sessions to 286, 44 per cent capacity to 42 per cent.

“In the Great Lever, Rumworth, Halliwell area, that central core of the borough there is already a surplus of places in similar establishments and therefore no child will be disadvantaged if the consultation was to confirm that

closure was the appropriate action.”

Cllr Sue Haworth attacked the plans for closure.

She said: “This nursery needs marketing and service growth.

“To do both of those things you need a couple of people with skill in those subjects.

“If you believe that has not hitherto been done then do it now.

“Employ skill, action it and get busy.

“This nursery embodies all that is excellent in early years and has a proven track record on closing the attainment gap between rich and poor children.

“We should support state nurseries in deprived areas. Good nurseries support school ready children.

“Announce a reprieve for this nursery.”

Council leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said he felt there was ‘ a degree of cynicism’ in Labour’s support of the nursery as when in power in Bolton in 2017, the Labour-run authority included similar plans to close  Harvey Nursery in its budget proposals.

He said: “We would in no way consider the closure of this nursery if there was not additional outstanding provision in this area already available.”

The Bolton branch of Unison is also opposing the move to shut the nursery.

Martin Challender, spokesman for the trade union, said: “Harvey Nursery is a lifeline for a lot of children and their families and professionals.”