The battle to save a Commons bar

The bar is being converted into a creche - unless protestors have their say
The bar is being converted into a creche - unless protestors have their say

By staff

Tempers have been raised in parliament over a plan to turn one of the estate's popular bars into a crèche.

Plans are underfoot to turn Bellamy's Bar into a nursery as part of the drive to make the Commons more family friendly, in a move backed by Speaker John Bercow.

But a petition resisting the change was presented last night by Tory MP Christopher Chope.

The petition gained 470 signatures, while a separate Facebook group now has 276 members.

Those objecting to the change point out that Bellamy's is the only non-membership bar which accepts staff in the parliamentary estate.

Concerns have also been raised about the £500,000 price tag for converting the area into a nursery, especially given the £480,000 refurbishment spent on the bar.

But the protest is unlikely to carry enough weight to cancel the plans, with all three party leaders committed to modernising Westminster.

The crèche plan is also central to Mr Bercow's efforts to change the image of parliament from an old-boys club to a modern and welcoming legislature.

"Our parliament has sadly been behind the times in providing practical support to parents who work here," Mr Bercow said last December.

"If parliament is to be truly representative of the community it serves then it must do more to encourage parents to stand as MPs.

"Many other parliaments around the world provide nursery facilities for members and staff. It is time one of the oldest parliaments in the world caught up with the rest."

Should Mr Bercow be ejected from his Buckingham seat at the general election by Ukip MEP Nigel Farage, the protestors might have more luck, but Westminster observers still consider such a hiccup unlikely.


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