Financial crisis forces Great Yarmouth College nursery to close

Great Yarmouth College yesterday announced 'with great sadness' that it must close its day nursery in the summer to help safeguard the college's financial future.

Governors made the difficult decision to shut the nursery, rated 'good' by Ofsted, and sell the Lichfield Road building at a meeting this week.

The move has dismayed parents who have battled to save it since it became known in June that it might go.

Secretary Louise Ridge, of Whinchat Way, Bradwell, who said at the time that she might have to give up work if her daughter Imogen's nursery closed, described it as outrageous.

She said: 'They assured us they would try to keep it open. They are selling a good and money-making part of their rather poor college to make a fast buck and get them out of a financial hole.'

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Interim principal Heather Maxwell, who took the helm after the departure of previous head Robin Parkinson, said the decision was made in the knowledge that the college was carrying 'an unacceptable level' of �6m of loans and other debts.

'The college's income is �14.5m, which will be less next year, and ideally it should be carrying a maximum of 25pc of its annual income as debt,' she said.

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As well as loans from building its flagship construction and Alchemy centres, the college had been forced to write off �600,000 in preparation costs for a second phase of building work that was stopped by government cuts.

The decision on the nursery was announced a day after it was revealed the college would be sharing services with City College Norwich in a cost-saving drive, and Ms Maxwell said further efficiencies after the nursery closure decision were inevitable.

She said: 'It grieves me that the corporation had no choice but to close the nursery, which is very good. However, the rest of the building is in a derelict state and you can't keep a building like that on a college campus.'

Nursery staff were told of the decision on Wednesday night and parents of the 70 babies and pre-school children who use it received letters yesterday.

Chairman of the governors Mike Field described the sale of the building, part of the century-old Edward Worlledge School, as a 'financial imperative for the college'.

'When the governors looked at the financial position of the college, in order to fund new training kitchens, we have to sell the old block where the nursery is housed. We have tried to keep it open but we will have to put the buildings up for sale in January,' he said.

'We will be meeting all of our legal requirements to our staff and parents. We are giving seven months notice to help parents find alternative care for their children.'

The college employs 17 full and part-time staff in the nursery that provides childcare for college staff and students as well as the public.

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