Campaign grows to keep open 'caring' nursery facing closure
ANGRY parents have launched a campaign to save a Brixham nursery from closure.
Torbay Council is considering closing Chestnut pre-school and nursery because of falling numbers.
The move comes a year after the authority did a U-turn on selling off the now closed nearby Chestnut Primary School following mounting community pressure.
Now mums and dads of children at the Chestnut Sure Start Children Centre are fighting back to show their support for the Rowan Way nursery.
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They have sent Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver a clear message that of the three options on the table, keeping it open is the only one possible. Torbay Council has now extended consultation to January 7.
Mother-of-two Julie Hutchinson said she had been incensed by the news.
She said: "There is nowhere else to go for children at Chestnut. All the other nurseries in Brixham are full up."
Mrs Hutchinson said a Facebook page had been set up on the day of a public meeting about the options available for Chestnut. She said it gathered some 1,150 followers in just 12 hours.
She added: "It just shows the strength of feelings about Chestnut.
"We all feel this decision has been very rushed. There has been a two-day notice about the possible closure then the Mayor will make a decision on December 6 and that's it."
Local Torbay councillor Andrew Baldrey, who has used the nursery in the past for his own children, said: "I am fully supportive of the parents involved. Having been a parent myself, I fully understand the need for stability for very young children and the trust of parents in the people they decide can best look after their children.
"Torbay Council could and should have been far more up-front about the financial situation surrounding the nursery which would have given time for the possibility of others coming forward with a business plan to run the nursery."
The other two options for Chestnut are keeping the status quo or any other ideas the community can come up with.
Parents have been told that should the nursery close, they would have a choice of other pre school care providers.
But Mrs Hutchinson said many of them do not accept under-three vouchers which then increases the price of child care.
Mum Louisa Bone, of Chestnut Drive, said: "The consultation meeting has left me certain the only option really being considered is closing the nursery.
"I felt there was no answers really given. My four-year-old developed glue ear early in life which did not get detected until her speech was severely delayed.
"When we started at Chestnut nursery she had five words and used baby speak.
"Thanks to the care and effort put into her by this nursery she has blossomed and is now understood by nearly everyone who walks through those doors.
"But now that is being taken away from her. There is also a lack of places in Brixham for preschool children so the likelihood is that Sophina will be left between the closure and school with no setting like this to help her."
Cllr Matthew James said: "Chestnut Nursery is a vital facility serving the most deprived community in Brixham and it is key to combating child poverty and inequality by helping parents get back to work.
"It is unique in what it offers to disabled children and those with special needs and it is one of the few facilities in Brixham which offers year-round care for children under three."
Cllr Chris Lewis said the council may delay closure until September to reduce disruption to pupils.
He said: "We want to do what is best for them but at the same time we have spent two years looking at the private sector to take it over. There are 170 vacancies at the school and only a 46 per cent take up. Most early years provision is done by the private sector."