Parents join forces to save day nursery

Westbourne House Day Nursery in Lancaster, which is threatened with closure.
Westbourne House Day Nursery in Lancaster, which is threatened with closure.

Parents have united in a campaign to save their children’s nursery after being told it is to close this summer.

Staff and parents were told at a meeting last Thursday that Westbourne House Day Nursery will shut on August 30.

Owners CfBT Education Trust said the business had become “increasingly challenging to manage in the current commercial climate”.

A group of parents have now joined together in a bid to save the nursery.

Reading-based CfBT, who have owned the nursery since 2001, put Westbourne House on the market 18 months ago, but the nursery, based in a Grade 2 listed building in Cannon Hill, Westbourne Road, has had no serious interest from potential buyers.

Parents have been told it would cost £500,000 to buy the property and carry out the necessary repairs. They now face having to find alternative provision for their under fives while 28 members of staff face redundancy.

Lyndsey Mayne, whose two-year-old son Jacob has been at Westbourne House for 18 months, said: “There is a slight panic amongst parents and staff about finding alternative placements and jobs.

“We chose Westbourne House out of all the nurseries in the area and we now have to go through that whole process again. It’s quite upsetting; Jacob had been doing really well. He’s really come along and is very so sociable and happy. I have noticed such a difference in him and I have been really happy with the care he has had.”

A petition with more than 200 signatures has been set up, along with a Facebook page and website www.saveournursery.org.uk, and Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw has been contacted for support.

Carol Glover, UK contracts director for CfBT Education Trust, said: “Our proposal to close Westbourne House Day Nursery is not one which we have taken lightly but one which we have been forced to consider in the current commercial climate.

“Our ambition has been to sell our nurseries as ongoing businesses and in seven of the nine settings we have managed to achieve this.

“However, we have not been able to achieve this for Westbourne House Nursery thus far, mainly we believe due to the significant maintenance costs for the site and current levels of occupancy.

“Therefore, we are proposing closure as a last option.

“We are very willing to speak to parents, staff or other interested parties who would be interested in taking over the ownership and management of the nursery.”

Interested parties have until June 6 to make initial comments by emailing nurseryparents@cfbt.com, writing to Westbourne House Day Nursery consultation, 60 Queens Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 4BS.