New lease deal saves Lancaster children’s centre

Coun Abi Mills
Coun Abi Mills

A Lancaster children’s nursery which faced closure following council cutbacks is expected to remain open.

Rising Stars Nursery at Firbank Children’s Centre in Firbank Road looks set to stay open when Lancashire County Council pulls its staff out of the building at the end of March 2017.

Last month, city councillor Abi Mills organised a meeting between the nursery, Ridge Primary School, local midwives, Bulk Ward city councillors, Lancashire County Council’s district property officer and Lancaster City Council chief executive Susan Parsonage.

It is understood the meeting helped to secure a new lease.

Lancashire County Council said that while a new lease had not yet been finalised, it was optimistic that the nursery would be able to stay in its current location.

Coun Mills said: “It is great to finally have it confirmed that county has granted the nursery a three-year lease.

“It would have been devastating for local parents to have lost their highly-valued nursery as well as the children’s centre.”

Nursery owner Philippa Perks said: “We’re delighted that the lease has been extended. The nursery has developed considerably over the last five years and this is attributable to the hard work and dedication of the staff team. It’s great that we’ll be able to continue to work in partnership with Ridge Primary School and to support the local community.”

Coun Caroline Jackson added: “We are now hoping that the rest of the Firbank building can be used for the kind of ‘complementary services which county is going to stop providing through the children’s centre, keeping current midwifery services and health visitor clinics on-site, and developing well-being provision for all ages.”

The county council decided to close Firbank as part of its buildings and property review.

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: “We are currently negotiating the lease with the owners of Rising Stars nursery. These discussions are still ongoing, but we are optimistic that the nursery will be able to continue in its current location. We need to be clear though that final agreement has not yet been reached.”