Council reviews may hit childcare

NEWCASTLE City Council will investigate selling its childcare and family day care centres, as part of a review of non-statutory services.

The audit was completed late last year and the council has endorsed recommendations including a review of some fees at Blackbutt Reserve and city pools and reduced services in the parks department.

Several other proposals require ‘‘further analysis’’.

These include the possibility of selling Beresfield Golf Course, sharing aged-care and disability services with other councils, and selling the childcare centres.

Employees and parents at the Wareya Marai childcare centre at Adamstown said they were concerned about the effect on their centre, which is run by a parent committee.

The council owns seven centres and leases them to community operators for a peppercorn rent each year.

An Adamstown group spokeswoman said they learnt about the proposals only last week and were concerned the centre could be sold to a childcare operator with a commercial focus.

‘‘We’re a community-based centre,’’ the spokeswoman said. ‘‘All our money goes back into the centre and back to the children.’’

Cr Graham Boyd, who instigated the review and has sat on the panel that looked into individual services, said the council would save about $2million from measures already adopted.

Cr Boyd said the council was only looking at ways it could both save money and allow community services to remain open.

In the case of childcare, the buildings might be given or sold to the community groups that run the centres, or to another not-for-profit childcare organisation.

‘‘We’re looking at these community assets from the point of view of our costs owning the buildings,’’ Cr Boyd said.

‘‘It’s not our intention to sell them [for profit]. There is no intention to reduce any of the services.’’

Cr Boyd said he hoped the review would eventually save the council ‘‘a lot more’’ than $2million.

A review of the council’s Tourism and Economic Development Unit will also be conducted.

The unit has been expanded in recent years and was shaken up in 2010 when a number of staff were made redundant and new positions advertised.

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