FOUR Wee County nurseries will be open from 8am to 6pm by 2020 as part of plans to deliver 1,140 hours of free childcare for all 3-4 year olds.

Nurseries in Sauchie, Menstrie, the one to be erected at the Tullibody South Campus as well as ABC in Alloa will be open for 10 hours a day to accommodate the expanded free early learning and childcare opportunities, councillors heard at last Thursday’s People Committee meeting.

Sauchie Nursery has already seen works to keep it open all year and deliver lunch while, the Menstrie Nursery Class is to be built at the back of the primary school.

The one being developed at the new campus in Tullibody has been increased in size as original plans worked with assumptions based on the currently available 600 hours of care.

Refurbishment and reconfiguration are also planned for Alva, Deerpark, Craigbank, Clackmannan and Park nursery classes over the next few years.

The workforce delivering early learning and childcare will also need to be expanded by nearly a third with a corresponding growth in catering and cleaning services.

Children between the ages of 2-5 will also be eligible for free lunch by 2020 and the council is working with an NHS dietician to ensure the food will meet the required nutritional values and that it appeals to children.

Some kitchens will need to be converted or expanded with the works currently being costed.

During the meeting, Labour colleagues Councillors Dave Clark and George Matchett were keen to make sure the finances are in order.

Officers reassured they are working within their allocations, £4.8million from the Scottish Government to expand nurseries.

Committee chair, the SNP’s Graham Lindsay, hailed the expanded provision as an “exciting policy” and a “huge challenge”.

Labour opposition leader Cllr Dave Clark was happy to second it, saying it was a “positive” paper and adding: "My passion is for the 26 per cent of weans living in poverty.”

Conservative representative Martha Benny also showed her support, highlighting it is vital sufficient resources are in place.

Indeed, the council paper stated revenue funding has only been confirmed for 2018-19 and staff will need to be in place in time to make sure the hours can be provided.