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City needs schooling in delivering on childcare

The City of Sydney is falling behind on plans to build six additional childcare centres by the end of this year, and one will not be built ever, according to Labor councillor Linda Scott.

Councillor Scott told City Hub that council papers released this week showed that the Sydney Park site for the proposed childcare centre was contaminated and as consequentially would not proceed.

She said there were questions for the council as to why such an important element was not checked when a development application for the childcare centre was lodged.

A nearby children’s bike track in the path was rerouted to accommodate the planned childcare centre.

The City planned to fast track the building of six – including centres in Annandale, Alexandria, Sydney Park, Darlinghurst, Zetland and Green Square– by 2016.

The City spent $55 million to fast track the funding. When it announced the extra funding n May 2013 “Potential sites are being tested to ensure they meet planning regulations, community needs, operational capacity and current and future childcare strategies.”

“A proposed childcare centre at Sydney Park will not go ahead because of landfill excavation concerns,” a City spokesperson told City Hub. 

The spokesperson said the City was investigating alternative sites, including the Ashmore Estate. She said that the City was considering a skatepark for the site.

Councillor Scott questioned basing children’s leisure activities in the area considering health and safety issues with the site.

“It apparently okay to have a children’s bike path. Now we have two children’s bike paths and no childcare centres. Why they didn’t know earlier that it was contaminated? Why wasn’t the site tested when the as part of the DA?

The one in Darlinghurst is near which is near completion has drawn the ire of locals because of its similarities to a supermax prison.

There are four sites that are still under construction.

Labor Councillor Linda Scott said that council documents released this week had budget projections into 2017 for the six childcare centres supposed to be fast tracked.

She said the mayor had failed to deliver on her promise.

“Three out of the four sites have budget allocations into 2017-18 so one would question the advice that they’ll be completed by 2016,” she told City Hub.

She said that the roll on effect would affect business and the local community.

“It is devastating for local families, who were relying to getting access to these childcare places, and devastating for local businesses that were relying on having employees back to work

The City of Sydney Council provides affordable childcare in the City of Sydney that typically costs less than private providers .

Councillor Scott said it was important to deliver on childcare in a range of locations because it benefit working parents close to where they live and work.

“There are currently 5,469 childcare places operating in our local government area. Since June 2013 the City’s work has contributed to a net increase of 967 new operating places, over 2,000 places that have been approved or are under construction, 368 places currently under assessment and 220 places subject to a design competition – overall it’s an increase of more than 3,500 places.

A City spokesperson said centres in Darlinghurst, Annandale, Green Square and Alexandria were due to be completed this year.