Regardless of your political leanings or ideology, I think it goes without saying that all of us want our young people to have the best possible start in life.

Part of this means ensuring that they have access to nurseries and early years care and have the opportunity to play, learn and interact with other young people from an early age. For many families nurseries provide a vital function as they allow parents to go back to work with the comfort of knowing that their children are in safe hands.

The SNP Government previously committed to giving all children 1,140 hours of free childcare by August 2020. Although this policy may have been brought in with the best of intentions, this has been pushed on many nurseries who are struggling to meet the Scottish Government’s commitments.

Last year, a Freedom of Information request highlighted that only 10 per cent of public nurseries were meeting this target, with staff issues being identified as one of the driving factors in this.

Only last week, an Audit Scotland report highlighted that local authorities will be completing 50 per cent of their recruitment in the final few months before the expansion, and that any delays could threaten the delivery of childcare that parents and young people rely on.

North Ayrshire Council have struggled to find the staff they need as the local authority has had to scale back its ambitions for an 8am-6pm day pilot amid fears of unions striking over the proposals.

When it announced the policy, the SNP Government insisted that the expansion would provide flexibility to working parents. Yet, in Kilwinning, parents are rightly upset by the squeeze on places as 60 children are vying for one of only seven 9am-3pm places.

The Scottish Government also introduced stricter qualification requirements for nursery managers, meaning that they will all need to have SCQF Level 9. The result of this has been that nursery managers across the country with many decades of experience are now entering retirement rather than retraining, during a time where the demand for nursery teachers is greater than ever.

This has also been putting significant pressure on private nurseries as well. If private nurseries are unable to manage the demands of the Scottish Government, then it is our council operated nurseries that will be left to pick up the pieces.

The scale of what the SNP Government is asking North Ayrshire Council to achieve is massive, and it’s clear that local authorities across Scotland are struggling to enact the Scottish Government’s directive.

At this important point in the rollout of the 1,140 hours it’s vital that the SNP Government works closely with North Ayrshire Council and every local authority in Scotland to ensure this policy does what it was meant to and ensures all our young people have access to quality early years care.

What is clear is that local nurseries across North Ayrshire need greater support from the Scottish Government.