ALL council-run nurseries in Brighton will be closed from tomorrow, it has been announced.

Brighton and Hove City Council issued a statement this afternoon, two days into a third national lockdown, saying its sites will be shut from tomorrow.

The sites will still be open to vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers.

"The decision has been made to better protect staff, families and children and is consistent with the measures implemented by government for all schools," a council spokesman said.

"We are seeing a rapid increase of Covid-19 cases across the city and a decision to close our nurseries has been taken to help reduce the spread of the disease.

"We are very conscious of the impact of this decision, particularly for our most disadvantaged children and we are working to prioritise as many places as possible for these children.

"We are committed to the full reopening of our nurseries as soon as possible.

"Private and voluntary providers must make their own decisions about staying open to all children, based on their own current and robust risk assessments."

The Argus: Prime Minister Boris JohnsonPrime Minister Boris Johnson

The move from the council comes in spite of government rules stating that "early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open".

This comes days after Brighton and Hove City Council set a precedent by advising schools in the city to move to remote learning.

Boris Johnson appeared on the BBC Andrew Marr show over the weekend to insist that schools were "safe" and education was “a priority”.

However, within the national lockdown measures the Prime Minister announced on Monday, the government ordered all schools to move to remote learning just one day after the start of the spring term.

Now Brighton and Hove City Council has again contradicted government advice by closing its nurseries.

Councillor Hannah Clare, chairwoman of the children, young people and skills committee, said: “We understand the concerns of our staff regarding the rising infection rates in the city.

“As a result, we have, as a temporary measure, decided to move our council-run nurseries to be only open to vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

“No one wants to be in a position where our nurseries aren’t fully open. However, to make our community safe, we have taken action.

“Private and voluntary providers can make their own decisions. We know that some in the city have already taken a similar position. However this comes at a financial cost to those providers. 

“As a result, Councillor John Allcock (opposition spokesman for the children, young people and skills committee) and I have written to Government to urge them to compensate early years providers, similar to how they did last year.”

The Argus: Brighton and Hove City Council Labour Councillor John AllcockBrighton and Hove City Council Labour Councillor John Allcock

Cllr Allcock said the measure had been put in place to "keep everybody safe" and he "hopes the government responds positively to our joint request to support early years providers who make a vital contribution to the education and wellbeing of children".

The GMB union has now called on the government to follow suit and shut nurseries and pre-schools "to save lives as the pandemic reaches a new crisis point".

National officer Stuart Fegan said: "From the very beginning of the pandemic, ministers have neglected the early years sector - missing it from government communications, excluding it from financial support and from the provision of home testing kits. 

“Brighton and Hove City Council has shown real leadership and taken a decision the government should already have made to protect people. 

"But it shouldn’t have been left to councils to step in to address the government’s failure here. 

“There is no scientific evidence to support the continued opening of nurseries. It is purely a political decision, made by ministers who are failing to take their responsibility to staff, families and the wider community seriously enough.  

“They’ve left nursery staff, childminders and nannies worrying for their safety and sown fear and confusion among parents. 

“It’s time for the government to step in and correct this dangerous mistake by closing all nursery and pre-school provision to all but key workers and vulnerable children, in line with school closures."