WORK has started on £24 million plans to deliver five new nurseries across East Renfrewshire.

Children from Crookfur Primary nursery class in Newton Mearns joined councillors, council staff and contractors to see the first sod being cut on the site of the new Crookfur Family Centre.

The facilities, three of which will operate as family centres to provide childcare for 50 weeks of the year, are scheduled to open in August next year.

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Councillor Paul O’Kane, convener for education and equalities, said: “It’s exciting to reach this important milestone in our early years expansion plan.”

The nurseries are part of a plan to provide increased free childcare by 2020 for all those aged three and four and for eligible two-year-olds.

Councils currently provide 600 free hours a year but this will rise to 1,140 – or 30 hours a week.

Crookfur Primary nursery class will be relocated to the new facility on the site of the former Crookfur Pavilion.

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Sheena McGuigan, Crookfur Primary headteacher, will manage the centre, which will offer more places and will be open all year round.

Another new nursery will be built within Overlee Park, a replacement for Glenwood Family Centre, and two new centres will be erected within the grounds of Busby and Eaglesham primaries.

An extension for 60 nursery places will be developed at Cross Arthurlie Primary while facilities at Hazeldene Family centre, Carolside Nursery and Braidbar Nursery will be improved.