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Anger of Blandford Nursery Closure


1:37pm 21st October 2013

Parents in Blandford are angry with the County Council who've announced they're shutting the town's only children's nursery next year.

The local authority says they can't afford to the run the nursery and an out of school club called Oscars, after they lost a government grant that paid for the provisions.

Dozens of parents are campaigning to keep the services open.

Katherine Dandridge takes her son to the nursery and told Wessex FM the news of the closures came as quite a shock to the community;

"We received a letter on Thursday morning completely out of the blue; it was a bit of a shock. We weren't aware of any problems. The Council say it’s not making enough money but we weren't aware of any troubles. We haven't been asked to increase our fees. To just tell us it's going to shut is a bit of a worry for many parents in Blandford."

A statement on the County Council website says;

"It is unusual for a council to manage nurseries or out of school clubs, as the vast majority are run by private companies or the voluntary sector.

Despite efforts to save these settings, running costs, recruitment issues and the loss of Government grants have meant that all three are now losing a significant amount of money (likely to be around £134,000 by April) and are no longer financially viable."

County Councillor and Cabinet member for Education Toni Coombes told Wessex FM they want to talk with local operators about a new independent service, and that it was a shame to have to shut the nursery and club;

"Unfortunately despite our best efforts to reduce the cost of both settings - Nursery and Oscars - there is an on-going deficit budget that we just can't work around. So we've had to take the business decision to close the provision.”

"It could be a voluntary run nursery, an independent provider wanting to come into the area and set-up a new provision, or it might be introducing more child-minders into the area. We want to work with the community so we can meet the need there because we do recognise there is a need, but we can't meet that need at the moment."

Parents are meeting Council representatives to talk over future plans at the Crown Hotel in Blandford tonight from 8pm.

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