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‘Devastating’:Preschool in Carlton to close due to financial difficulties after 50 years in business

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A preschool which has been serving communities in Gedling borough for 50 years is due to close due to financial difficulties.

Carlton Preschool Playgroup, which is based at the Richard Herrod Centre in Foxhill Road, will shut later this month.

The charity rents out a room at the centre from Gedling Borough Council and has 34 children on its roll.

Seven staff have been made redundant as part of the closure, which manager Maxine Payne described as “devastating”.

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She said the preschool currently pays between £2,500 and £3,000 in rent per half term.

PICTURED: Pre-school staff Jadie Roper, Ruth Jackson (deputy manager), Rebecca Curtain and Maxine Payne
Richard Herrod Centre
PICTURED: Richard Herrod Centre

Ms Payne, who has worked for the preschool for 15 years, said Gedling Borough Council increased the charity’s rent from £13 to £14 an hour in April.

But the authority said the preschool was already receiving discounted rent due to its charity status.

The leader Cllr John Clarke MBE (Lab) added that he was “very disappointed” to hear of the closure.

Ms Payne said: “We’ve always made it clear to the council that if there was a rent increase, we would have to close.

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“We are very much underfunded. Our staff deserve to have the rise in the minimum wage – but together with the rent increase, this was enough to make our situation unsustainable.

“We live in a deprived area – I am a referee for the food bank for any parents having a hard time.

“It’s not just the children, it’s about the whole community.

“It’s devastating because I’ve put my heart and soul into this place. I am sad for the parents, my staff and myself as I’m out of work now.”

She said preschool bosses met with the council in June to “stress how valuable this setting is” in Gedling.

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The authority offered a 50 per cent discount in the rent for June and July.

The preschool also wrote to local MPs and the Education Secretary about their situation.

Ms Payne added: “We had to give notice of redundancy to seven staff who are all from local families.

“This is a preschool that has been around for over 50 years, my children went there so I’ve got a long association with it.

“It has been really difficult but there isn’t any other option. We don’t make a profit as a charity.”

She said the Government funding rates are too low for places like Carlton Preschool to cope with.

She said: “The Government is making it easier for parents to access childcare which is brilliant, but the funding rates are so low that we don’t get enough money to be able to pay wages.

“Unfortunately, unless the funding rates are substantially made better, this is what will happen.”

Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor John Clarke, said: “We are very disappointed to hear that the school has made the difficult decision to close.

“The organisation had a charity status so they received a 50 per cent discount on their hire charges from Gedling Borough Council.

“Due to the cost of utilities increasing by 40 per cent we had no option but to increase this discounted rent by 5 per cent this year. We have also offered some additional rent reduction support in June and July.  As a landlord, we have explored various avenues to mitigate the financial strain they faced that did not require taxpayers to subsidise them.

“We understand that the organisation faced additional challenges, including rising staff costs and a real terms reduction in government funding for free childcare places, which have also significantly impacted their financial resources.

“We have been advised that Nottinghamshire County Council, who is the education lead authority, is working with the families affected to ensure the children are relocated to the nearest suitable education provider.”

Kai Harrison, the Conservative candidate for Carlton ward in the May elections, said the Richard Herrod Centre is being “hollowed out”.

He said: “You never want to see a preschool leave an area after 50 years.

“We are going to see places like this fall by the wayside increasingly.

“Gedling Borough Council need to be more compassionate instead of being strict landlords.

“This is a massive hub for the community and lots of Gedling parents too.

“These guys care about their community, they want to be part of it but they can’t pay the astronomical rent.

“It’s sad that the council aren’t willing to find a compromise or negotiate.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are rolling out the single biggest investment in childcare in England ever, set to save a working parent using 30 hours of childcare up to an average of £6,500 per year.

“To make sure there are enough places across the country we will be investing hundreds of millions of pounds each year to increase the amounts we pay providers to offer places and will be consulting on how we distribute funding to make sure it is fair across all areas of the country.

“We are also launching a new national recruitment campaign to support the recruitment and retention of talented staff and considering how best to introduce new accelerated apprenticeship routes so everyone from junior staff to senior leaders can easily move into a career in the sector.”

The Government said it is increasing the rates we pay providers for places in September.

This will include increase in the average hourly rate for 2 year-olds from the current £6 per hour in 2023-24 to around £8 per hour.

The average 3-4 year old rate will rise in line with inflation to over £5.50 per hour.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Totally mortified, my daughter attended Carlton Preschool four years ago and loved it. A very dark day indeed

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