MP: Save the nursery our posties are relying on
Emily Thornberry demands an explanation over plans to close discounted service for staff at Mount Pleasant sorting office
12 February, 2021 — By Calum Fraser
EMILY Thornberry has backed calls for Royal Mail to reverse its plans to close a discounted nursery for its staff at the Mount Pleasant sorting office.
The Islington South and Finsbury MP told the Tribune she had written to Royal Mail chiefs demanding an explanation for the planned closure of the Kiddycare nursery in Farringdon Road.
Parents and nursery staff asked her to intervene with warnings that jobs could be lost and families face a potentially catastrophic financial hit.
“I’ve written to the Royal Mail about it,” she said. “These are key workers, they need child care and this is hardly the time to be thinking of closing a nursery.
“I’ve written to them to make this point and ask them what they are doing and to explain themselves. I’ve had no response yet. Several of the parents have been in touch.”
She added: “In my view, there is plenty of space in Mount Pleasant so fundamentally I don’t understand why they don’t appreciate how important it is to keep this nursery open.”
Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) is opposing the plans. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition.
Since last week’s coverage in the Tribune, Royal Mail has offered an extension of the contract with Kiddycare Ltd until September.
A CWU spokesman said: “It’s not surprising that these dedicated employees passionately oppose this closure. It is unfair, unnecessary, and puts the children of key workers at risk.”
The nursery, which is open from 6am to 10pm, has capacity for 30 children and offers discounted places to Royal Mail staff for around £150 a week full-time – a rate that would not be offered at many private nurseries.
Royal Mail first introduced plans to close the nursery almost a decade ago. Ms Thornberry opposed the scheme then and the postal firm eventually backed down.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We heavily subsidise Kiddycare Limited, a third-party supplier, which provides paid-for childcare at our Mount Pleasant Mail Centre in London.
Young charges at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre nursery
“We have been in discussions with Kiddycare since 2019 about alternative arrangements, and offered them a new commercial lease. This was not accepted.”
She added: “We have therefore offered Kiddycare a further six months accommodation at Mount Pleasant, free of rent and all associated property services, to the end of September 2021, so that they can find alternative accommodation for their business.
“We are in discussions with the estimated eight to ten Royal Mail parents who use this service and will be supporting them through the transition to another childcare provider, where appropriate.
“We will also be offering continued support and advice to these colleagues throughout this process.”