Parents show their support for weekly toddler group
�A petition with 150 signatures in support of saving a weekly parent and toddler group will be presented to Brentwood Council later this month.
Users of Brentwood Library’s Daddy Cool sessions – also known as Nursery Rhyme groups – launched the campaign to try to reinstate the weekly meetings, which they say are vital for their children’s development.
The sessions were cut from weekly to monthly in the summer and parents have been collecting signatures since to get the decision overturned.
Parent Eva Rodriguez, who has led the campaign, said: “I think it is a very good number to show the local support. At every Daddy Cool session I have attended since launching the campaign, the parents attending did not doubt one second in signing the petition.”
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Borough councillor Mike Le-Surf (Labour, Brentwood South) is hoping Essex County Council will bring back the weekly sessions.
He said: “I am full of admiration for the parents who are campaigning against these cuts. I was born in my ward, had excellent nursery provision and expect hard- working families in Brentwood to receive the same.”
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He added that the Saturday morning group is the most popular of the three groups at the library, the other two on Wednesdays and Fridays.
He will present the group’s petition to Brentwood Council at its full meeting at the end of the month and send it to Essex County Council.
Meanwhile, Tory Cllr Cheralyn Lewis (also Brentwood South) said she is planning to organise volunteers to run sessions instead.
She said: “I think this is a great opportunity to roll up our sleeves and all pitch in to help.
“I am aware that several parents have approached the library staff previously to volunteer to help with the sessions, so I am imagining with this being such an essential session for them there will be no shortage of people helping to make this work. I myself am willing to volunteer to do a session if need be.”
However, Eva said: “It is unlikely to be a sustainable solution. From my point of view it is rather difficult that we, as working parents with young children, can take responsibility of running the service.
“Furthermore, you have to be able to communicate and interact well with babies and toddlers and keep their attention for 30 minutes, which is rather difficult in my opinion, especially after having attended Nursery Rhyme sessions run by different librarians. It requires someone highly skilled to make it enjoyable.”
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “Over the past year, a variety of measures have been implemented to ensure the library service remains in budget and this has included a review of the number of events and activities that staff can realistically provide.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation and are actively pursuing offers of help from volunteers to help us run additional sessions.”