There were scenes of jubilation and tears of joy on Tuesday night after Hobsons Bay council voted not to close two Altona kindergartens because of a new hub being built in the suburb.
The council’s administration had recommended Altona Kindergarten and Somers Parade Kindergarten be closed when the $6.9million Altona Early Years Hub is built on the site of Altona P-9 College.
Councillor Tony Briffa, who tabled a petition signed by more than 1300 people to keep the kinders open, moved an alternative motion that the council ensure choices for families by retaining the Altona, Seaholme and Somers Parade kindergartens.
Councillors Briffa, Michael Grech, Angela Altair, Sandra Wilson and Peter Hemphill voted in favour.
Councillors Colleen Gates and Jonathon Marsden voted against the motion, the latter saying it continued the status quo and effectively delayed the inevitable.
Cr Grech drew applause from a packed public gallery when he said: “We’re here to represent the community … let the community decide where they want to send their children.”
For Save Altona’s Kindergartens’ spokesman Paul Galea and wife Sharon Slater, the win couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary.
“It’s a very very emotional process,” Ms Slater said.
“We’ve put our heart and soul into trying to save these kinders and I guess that’s because these kinders are the heart and soul of our community in Altona.”
Mr Galea said he was amazed people power had won.
“I’m really in disbelief to be honest,” he said.
“I’m really glad that Tony Briffa put that up, and that was absolutely fantastic that the other councillors supported us.
“For the teachers and the kids, this is just the best thing for Altona and the community.”