Diane Abbott visits Fernbank children’s centre. Photograph: Save Fernbank

Campaigners battling to save two north Hackney children’s centres from closure have won the backing of local MP Diane Abbott.

Fernbank and Hillside centres for the under-fives are slated for closure by Hackney Council in a bid to save £1m as part of changes to its early years service.

The move would result in a loss of 109 affordable childcare places – 68 at Fernbank on Fountayne Road and another 41 at Hillside on Leatherhead Close – along with up to 35 jobs.

The council said the demand for places for childcare is dropping, partly caused by families moving out of London after Covid and the Brexit effect. It said it has also been hit by years of austerity.

Hackney North and Stoke Newington Labour MP Diane Abbott met children, their parents and staff at Fernbank.

She said: “Why the council wants to  close the nursery is to save money. If they want to save money, there are other ways to save money because it’s these children’s futures. What happens to you at this stage actually does shape what happens to you through school.

“These are the next generation of Hackney’s people.”

She said she had already raised her concerns with Hackney’s Labour mayor Philip Glanville.

“I will raise it with the mayor again,” she said.

She praised the faciiities, including the garden, and said some families do not have access to garden space at home.

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville told last month’s full council meeting that it would not make this difficult choice if it did not need to balance the books after a decade of austerity.

He said: “If we did not have to do this we wouldn’t. We have faced a decade of cuts, £140m taken out of our budget, some of the biggest cuts in London.”

The consultation closes today, and the Town Hall’s cabinet will make its decision in December.

Have your say here.

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