A Kingston children’s centre earmarked for closure will become a council-run pre-nursery for two-year-olds from low income families, with the children guaranteed a place at the nursery next door.

Kingston Council is asking what activities at Kingston Hill Children’s Centre should be kept and moved elsewhere to make way for the 32 pre-nursery places.

The children from the pre-nursery would move on to Alexandra Infant School nursery.

One parent, who did not want to be named, said: “I think it’s unfair. It should not be means tested.

“The impact on the local area for getting your child into nursery is going to be quite severe.

“The children will be pushed down the list, even if you live close.

“When parents find out they are being graded on income, there will be some strong opinions.”

Conservative Councillor Andrea Craig, leader for children, youth and adult learning, who posed in this picture to show her sympathy, said: “The centre is going to go back to the school, which is where it came from.

"It is a budget issue so if a decision has been made in January for the last year, then it’s very difficult to reverse.

“The council is not closing the centre. The funds are being retargeted to the hard to reach families.”

A Kingston Council spokesman said: “Attending the school’s nursery does not give any priority for a place in reception [at Alexandra Infant School] and all applicants for a reception place will need to make an application regardless of the nursery setting they have attended or are attending.

“Each application is considered against the normal admissions criteria for the school.”

Mother-of-two Jude Hurtado, 39, who uses the centre regularly, said: “Everyone is very shocked and disappointed. We have been told we can go to the children’s centre in Kingston or Latchmere.

“But Kingston would be a long walk and I have been turned away from Latchmere in the past because it gets so busy.”

Coun Craig said she was looking into finding a new hub for cenmtre users in the area.