UNION leaders have launched a petition to try and save two hospital children’s nurseries.
Unison chiefs will hit the streets in Hartlepool town centre tomorrow to collect signatures.
It is part of a campaign to keep the Rainbow Day Nursery at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, and its counterpart at North Tees in Stockton, open.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has decided to close the nurseries by the end of the year after they lost £538,000 between 2011-2013.
Parents and carers concerned about the closure plans have already been out campaigning in Stockton.
And tomorrow the campaign, also supported by the Teesside People’s Assembly movement, comes to Hartlepool.
A meeting between Unison, parents and other interested parties, will be held in the Carnegie Building, Northgate, at 10am.
It will consist of a question and answer session and is aimed at parents, staff and members of the hospital trust.
Mark Edmundson, Unison area organiser, said: “The meeting is to discuss the campaign and where we are at.
“Over 30 people came to the meeting in Stockton last weekend and we are expecting a good turnout in Hartlepool.
“The impact [of the closures] is going to be devastating in both communities.
“Both of these nurseries provide flexibility, in terms of hours, that many private nurseries don’t provide.
“And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that 55 jobs are at risk.”
After the meeting from noon, campaigners will collect signatures from people in Hartlepool town centre.
Mark added: “The most important thing is to get out and speak to people.”
He added the support from the public so far on the issue had been “absolutely amazing”. “Many people are against the closures, it’s been overwhelming,” he said.
Mark said the aim was to try to save the nurseries and the union does not believe the hospital trust has looked at all the options.
He added: “We are urging the trust to talk to us to discuss possible alternatives to losing both nurseries by looking at alternative business models.
“We don’t think that’s been considered. This decision will have a very large impact on the local community.”