Maintaining grants to 20 Sheffield nurseries would have cost Sheffield Council £1.6 million a year, a councillor has said.
Coun Jackie Drayton said it was ‘money we no longer have’ after a judge dismissed a bid for a judicial review into the decision to stop the payments.
Four mums had claimed the move was ‘irrational’, unfair, and in breach of the council’s duties – also querying the adequacy of consultation – at the High Court.
Coun Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “We never wanted to go to court to defend our decision, but if we had not fought this case we would have to continue to find £1.6m year on year to pay these grants and this is money we no longer have.”
The council withdrew subsidies in March.
More than 10,000 people had previously signed a petition opposing a wider shake-up of community childcare.
Douglas Johnson, of Sheffield Law Centre, which backed the mums’ challenge, said: “The decision is disappointing.
“The judge commended community nurseries and said he hoped they would survive, many of them have already closed down. There is always a right of appeal but its too early to say.
“What’s good is we have a decision and it draws a line under the process.”