A mobile toy library which loans toys to children across Redbridge will go out of existence in March because of council funding cuts.
The Redbridge Mobile Toy Library, is operated by charity The Pre-School Learning Alliance, employs three staff and has been running for 11 years.
It works with families, childminders and pre-schools across Redbridge, but the council funding it relies on has been cut.
Rowline Cass, the library’s co-ordinator, said staff had been aware the service would have to close for the past year.
She added: “It’s a great shame and it will be missed by a lot of people, but funding cuts are such that we cannot continue.
“It costs a lot to keep the bus on the road and pay three staff and we just don’t have the money.”
The news has been greeted with sadness by those who use the service.
Ruth Norvell, manager of Wells (All Saints) pre-school in Inmans Row, Woodford Green, said: “The service they offer is wonderful and if we are doing a specific activity they provide themed toys for us.
“We will cope without them, but in areas of the borough where you have a lot of deprived children the toy library is an absolute God send. Children in those areas will suffer."
Claire Bond, manager of Clayhall nursery in Clayhall Avenue, added: “It’s very sad.
“The children get so excited about the toy library coming and so do we
“The staff are all lovely and they provide all sorts of toys including ones for children with special needs.
“I know that cuts have to be made, but I do wish we could spare something like this that makes such a difference to so many children.”
Alan Weinberg, the council’s cabinet member for Children’s Services, said the decision to cut funding to the toy library had been taken two years ago.
He added that discussions were taking place with toy library staff to see if the service could be continued in some form from within the borough’s 17 children’s centres.
He said: “We had no adverse comments about these proposals at the time and they have had a good amount of time to find alternative funding.
“I know they have an old vehicle and maybe the problem is the running cost of that.
“I do wonder if the whole idea of a mobile toy library is a bit old fashioned anyway.
“Over the years toys have got cheaper and cheaper. You only need to go into a pound store to be inundated.”
Does your child benefit from using the Redbridge Mobile Toy Library? Call Dominic Sutton on 07795 316211
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