DETAILED discussions are under way with an ‘outstanding’ private education provider about taking over the childcare at a Burton children’s centre.
A letter leaked to the Mail revealed that Staffordshire County Council was in talks with firm Tiny Toez over the education provision at East Staffordshire Children’s Centre, in Waterloo Street.
Last year council chiefs approved plans that would allow private and voluntary groups to take over the provision in an effort to stave off falling attendances.
In the letter, signed by Deborah Ramsdale, strategic lead targeted services, it stated: “We have been talking to a number of different childcare providers who have the expertise, freedom and flexibility to provide good quality childcare.
“Following an extensive period of evaluation and negotiation of all potential providers, the decision has now been made to start more detailed discussions with Tiny Toez. Throughout the evaluation process, Tiny Toez has shown commitment.
“I must stress at this point that this is not yet a done deal – no contract has been signed.
“May I make it extremely clear at this stage that should a contract be signed with Tiny Toez, all childcare staff will see their job transfer to the new provider with the same terms and conditions.
“I’d like to make it clear that should the contract be signed, Tiny Toez will not take over the running of childcare provision at the centre until April at the very earliest.”
The move to privatise childcare could save the authority up to £800,000.
Mike Lawrence, county council cabinet member for children’s wellbeing, said: “We are fully committed to ensuring that affordable, high-quality childcare provision continues and is available in Burton.
“We are part-way through a process to ensure this happens and we promised to keep our staff informed of any developments.
“We have written to members of staff to let them know about our discussions with one potential provider.
“We are still in the early stages of negotiations with a potential provider and we are unable to confirm any further details at this time.
“Once a final decision is made we will be working with staff to ensure a smooth transition to the new company.”