Decision to cut Sheffield nursery subsidies backed after appeal victory

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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.”