Crawley nursery to close just two years after parents saved it

Crawley parents are devastated at the news a nursery is to close just two years after hundreds of people signed a petition for it to reopen.

Little Handprints at Sutherland House, Rusell Way, Three Bridges, is due to close on June 23.

Managing Director Elaine Beach said the reasons for the closure included increases in running costs and new childcare laws.

Vicki Lendon, 34, who started the petition, said parents were devastated and added: “They are all desperately ringing round trying to find [nursery] places which have the right availability and location.

“There are some parents that were new at Little Handprints and some who are very passionately trying to save the nursery but for me, personally, I won’t.

“It’s different this time because we fought and we tried and I would hate for history to repeat itself. It’s left a bitter taste in my mouth.”

Elaine Beach, director of OSCAHS, which runs Little Handprints, on Friday (May 27) said two independent parties were interested in the nursery.

She told parents in a letter the closure was due to a ‘severe loss’ the nursery made over the past two years.

Elaine Beach, of The Ridgeway, Horley, who has worked in childcare for 20 years, in a statement added the closure was ‘the most difficult decision I have had to make’. She said she and her business partner Luke Mathewson were ‘reasonably confident’ they could make it a viable business when they opened it. “However, due to high rental charges, a lower than expected occupancy and increases in other running costs this is now the only option for us,” she said.

Vicki, whose sons Leo, 5, and Blaze, 3, have attended Little Handprints, formerly Busy Bees, said working parents who had children of school-age faced finding alternative childcare or take unpaid leave.

She raised concerns over the closure’s effect on children starting school in September, saying youngsters would be ‘uprooted’ twice if they went to a new nursery during the six week period between the closure and the school year finishing.

She also feared nursery staff would be unable to send individualised reports to schools over how children learn and behave.

Vicki, as she and other mothers did when Busy Bees announced its closure, has criticised communication from OSCAHS.

She said: “Perhaps if she [Elaine] approached the parents and told us about it we would have been able to help.

“We are very passionate about our nursery and we would have done everything to keep it going.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the closure and are supporting parents to find alternative provision for their child.”

Anyone who has not yet contacted the county council can contact its Family Information Service by emailing family.info.Service@westsussex.gov.uk or calling 01243 777807. Families can search for available childcare on www.westsussex.gov.uk/FIS

* Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at www.crawleyobserver.co.uk

2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crawleyobserver

3) Follow us on Twitter @Crawley_Obby

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Crawley Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.