DOORS have finally been reopened to a “vital” creche at the Scottish Parliament after it was shut during the pandemic.

There were major doubts expressed last year by MSPs about whether the Holyrood creche would ever open again, with many fearing it would remain closed after the coronavirus crisis to save cash.

It was one of the first parliaments in Europe to offer childcare facilities of this kind for young children.

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson shared concerns in a column last January that if parents could not place their children in care while in parliament, many simply would not be able to do their job.

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But it has been announced the creche has now reopened and will be able to offer pre-school childcare provision for MSPs, staff who work in the building and anyone with childcare responsibilities who is engaging with parliamentary business or with their MSPs.

The service is also there for anyone visiting or touring Holyrood.

Children and young people minister Natalie Don, who has two young children, said there have been times where the creche would have helped her while juggling various responsibilities and is delighted to see it reopen.

She told The National: “I am really pleased the Scottish Parliament creche is reopening. This is absolutely key to the aim of the parliament to be family-friendly.

“The creche is vital in allowing access to Parliament for many parents, whether that is the public or those participating in parliamentary business, such as committee witnesses.

“With a more representative group of parliamentarians than ever before, the creche is equally as important for members of parliament who often have things cropping up unexpectedly or at very short notice.

“Being a parent should not impact on either your ability to access parliament or your decision to stand for office.

“With two young children at home, there have certainly been times where juggling my work/life balance has been difficult and having the creche facility there would have been a huge help. I know many other members with young children who have found themselves in the same position.

“I am glad that we are now at a point that the creche is able to reopen and while it is disappointing that it has taken so long after the pandemic, this is a truly positive move.

“I believe now we should be aiming to look for more ways to build on that family-friendly label in an effort to continue to widen access to the Parliament for all parents.”

SNP MSP Kate Forbes, also a mum-of-two, said it is important for MSPs to be able to use the service especially if they have travelled a long way to the Parliament.

She said: “The Scottish Parliament was founded on the principle of being family-friendly.

“Anybody with care responsibilities knows how hard it is to balance work and family. This is doubly so when your job is a four-hour drive from home.

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“I commend the parliament for reopening the Parliament crèche to allow MSPs, employees and members to use these facilities. Having enjoyed a short tour of the facilities, I am very impressed with the quality of the care and the resources.”

Following a visit to the creche to meet staff and children, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone said: “The Scottish Parliament was one of the first parliaments in Europe to offer childcare facilities of this kind for young children and I’m delighted that we’re once again able to offer this.  

“The crèche is there to provide childcare to MSPs carrying out their duties, to all staff working in the Parliament, and to visitors giving evidence to our committees, touring the building or meeting their MSP.

“It’s important that the Parliament challenges itself to do all that we can to enable those with childcare responsibilities to work in, engage with and visit the Parliament.”