A call for the Scottish Government to intervene in how nursery places in Fife are allocated has been rejected.
Labour MSP Alex Rowley has written to childcare and early years minister Maree Todd, urging her to review the system following a flurry of complaints from parents whose children have either not been offered a place at a nursery of their choice or missed out altogether.
Describing the situation as a “fiasco”, Mr Rowley said he had been inundated with correspondence from parents whose nursery allocation will cause them major difficulties or will see siblings split up.
More than 350 children are understood to have received no place at all while others have been given unsuitable time slots, prompting the Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP to ask ministers to get involved.
However, The Courier has learned the Scottish Government remains steadfast that it cannot intervene in decisions on local admissions policies, as local authorities have a statutory duty to provide funded early learning and childcare to all entitled children in their area.
Mr Rowley said: “I really worry that Fife Council officials either do not get the extent of this problem or they are choosing to stick their heads in the sand hoping it will fix itself
“I cannot believe the level of failure that Fife Council is expecting parents to put up with, they have really messed this up and they must fix it so that children can access a local nursery.
“If Fife Council were not able to deliver for whatever reason they should have had the decency and honesty to say so and that would have given us an honest assessment of the problems that needed addressed.
“Instead they have pretended there is not a problem and expected parents to simply accept what they are given.
“This is not acceptable and council officials must be held to account for this mess.”
Mr Rowley said many parents are taking what is offered “out of fear” they will end up getting nothing.
While the Scottish Government maintains it cannot intervene in decisions on local admissions policies, it says policies should be “informed by local circumstances”.
A spokesperson added: “In March, the global Covid-19 pandemic meant the Scottish Government suspended the statutory duty on local authorities to provide 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare from this August.
“Once there is a clearer picture of the impact and duration of the pandemic response measures, we will work with local authorities to reinstate the expansion programme.
“Decisions about when and how to reopen early learning and childcare provision will be guided by scientific and public health advice, with the best interests of children at its heart.”