Mums unite in protest over nursery closures
A campaign has been launched against the proposed closure of children's nurseries used by staff who work for the customs service.
HMRC has nurseries at 12 of its sites around the UK and has announced they will all close at the end of November.
The service said the number of employees using the nurseries had dropped so low, many of them were mostly catering for children from elsewhere.
But mums whose children go to Nipper's Nursery, at the HMRC offices in Saxon House, in Causeway Lane, Leicester, claim their nursery is not seeing a drop in demand and are campaigning to keep it open.
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Compliance officer Natasha Sheldon, of Knighton, sends her two-year-old son, Marcus, to the nursery.
She said: "Their whole argument is erroneous. There are another three or four women on my floor alone who rely on the nursery, and most of the children there have parents who work here.
"The nursery has been here since 1997 and is very popular."
Outside companies are contracted to run the 12 nurseries around the UK and Natasha said the rates were cheaper than elsewhere.
She said: "We're looking at another option for Marcus and that costs £676 a month instead of about £436 at the moment, so, as well as the problems of finding another suitable place, we all think we're going to be paying much more.
"The nursery is on the HMRC site, but the care is not subsidised by HMRC.
"All HMRC tell us is that the nurseries are under-subscribed so they're closing them. We were only told last week and three months is not long to sort out an alternative."
The parents at Saxon House have joined a Facebook campaign to co-ordinate a national protest against the closures.
There is also a national petition which has 1,400 signatures.
Leicester staff may hold a protest outside Saxon House.
Natasha said: "This decision has been taken by a so-called family-friendly department at a time when the Government is placing the emphasis on helping women back into work."
Averil Parkin, an admin assistant at Saxon House, is backing the campaign.
Her son, Lucas, is about to go to infant school but he used the nursery from the age of nine months.
Averil, of Beaumont Leys, Leicester, said: "It's absolutely shocking. Lucas has been there nearly his whole life and it's been an absolute life-saver for me. It's such a convenient location."
A spokeswoman for HMRC said: "All of our on-site nurseries will be closing in November.
"They are under-occupied and the demand has continued to fall.
"Extra spaces are being filled by children of parents who don't work for HMRC.
"We will be supporting employees to look for nursery places elsewhere."