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Fury as North Swindon nursery is forced into closure
FAMILIES have been left with no places for their children after the sudden closure of a nursery.
The Big Adventure Club, based at Isambard Community School, will shut its doors today but there is controversy over the reasons for its closure.
The nursery’s management claims it was given just a few weeks to move into another room at Isambard after months of wrangling with the school.
But the school said it had given the Big A plenty of warning of the move.
Parents spoke of their anger at the closure, which they were only told about on Monday, and have said their children may now miss out on pre-schooling before starting in September.
Managers at the nursery, which provides early years education on behalf of the council, were told they had to look for new premises in April last year. They asked about a vacant room on the floor below.
But they claim a dispute over ownership of the room delayed the process until mid-December, meaning the room could not be renovated and they had no time to look for an alternative venue.
In a letter sent to parents yesterday, childcare director Peter Bailey said the Big Adventure club was only told in writing last week that they had to vacate the premises by February 17, which in practice means today due to half term.
He wrote: “During the first week of January we have worked tirelessly to put together a business plan and to put in place a work force to renovate the room from a ‘shell’ into a modern nursery/afterschool club.”
He said the club had never been told it had to vacate the room by February and that the council had told it ‘not to panic as it would be a smooth transition downstairs’.
The school said it had warned the nursery in April 2012 but had agreed to allow the club to stay on until last July.
It said: “Unfortunately, as the school has grown we can no longer accommodate them as this particular room has been earmarked for an Inclusion Centre for our most vulnerable or at risk students.
“The school reviewed the occupancy on a month by month basis from September 2012 onwards with the expectation that The Big Adventure Club were sourcing a new venue.”
Trudy Chambers, whose three-year-old daughter Katie joined the nursery five weeks ago, said: “This is the worst possible timing, halfway through the term. She was only just settling in and now we are going to have to find somewhere else to go.
“There is a shortage of places in north Swindon and this was our back-up in the first place.
“We only found out because the council sent us a letter on Monday. The Big A Club haven’t told us anything and they’ve known for a while.”
Phil Tanner, who was picking his three-year-old granddaughter Phoebe Watson up, said: “She will have been to three schools by the time she is four and that isn’t good for her. ”
A spokesman for Swindon Council said: “We have written to the parents of the 35 children who attend the early years sessions to let them know the arrangement between Big A and the school is coming to an end. Clearly we still need to provide early years services for these children, and we are working very hard to find alternatives for them and their parents.
“There is alternative accommodation next to the school, and the council is currently discussing bringing this under its control.”