Council officials say they will be able to deliver 1140 hours free childcare in all 36 Early Childhood Centres by August 2021.

The date was agreed upon by East Ayrshire Council Cabinet members after previously backtracking on a promise to deliver 1140 hours of free childcare at all ECCs from August 2020, citing coronavirus complications as the cause for the delay.

As of Tuesday, September 22, 22 ECCs were delivering the target hours. The remaining 14 will continue to deliver 600 hours.

Construction work restarted in June and four projects will be completed between October and February 2021, say the council.

The two new builds, Cherry Trees ECC (Barony Campus) and Loanhead ECC and the extensions at Cairns ECC and Onthank ECC will be in a position to deliver increased hours, subject to additional staff being in place, between January and February 2021.

It is anticipated that Dunlop ECC and Fenwick ECC will start to deliver increased hours from January 2021.

Then, between April and June 2021, they plan for more hours at Dalmellington, Dalrymple, Drongan and Patna ECCs, with the final four ECCs; Darvel, Flowerbank, Gargieston and Lainshaw, in a position to deliver 1140 hours from August 2021.

Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “Preparations to roll out the expansion across East Ayrshire is a very complex matter that takes time and careful planning to get right.

“This year has brought significant change to all of our lives and the pandemic has had a significant impact on our plan.

“I am also pleased to announce that a decision was taken at Cabinet today to fund increased hours in cross boundary places for the children of parents resident in East Ayrshire but who work or study in other local authority areas.”