Closure of three nurseries will leave 70 families in the lurch
PUBLISHED: 15:18 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:18 14 February 2019
More than 70 families in Norfolk will be left without a nursery when three close next month.
Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust said Tree Tops Nursery and Kingfisher Nursery in Thetford and Footsteps Nursery in Bowthorpe will close on Friday, March 29, as keeping them running has become “unsustainable”.
It comes as another blow to early years services after the closure of 38 children’s centres – leaving only 15 across the county – was approved by Norfolk County Council last month.
At Treetops Nursery Sharon Mace, a 44-year-old mum-of-six, said: “I’m gutted, because my little boy has got lots of difficulties, he’s severely disabled so it gives me a little bit of a break.
“It’s lovely for him because it’s got a sensory room, it’s got all the equipment for him.”
Ms Mace said she is now likely to keep her four-year-old son at home until he goes to Chapel Green School in Old Buckenham.
Unison the union says high quality early years learning will be lost should the nurseries shut their doors – Footsteps and Tree Tops are both rated “outstanding” by Ofsted while Kingfisher is ranked “good”.
Unison Norfolk community health branch secretary Rad Kerrigan said the trust had “sadly run out of options” due to central government funding cuts.
He said: “These planned closures will be another hammer blow to families in Norfolk already smarting from the threat to shut most of the county’s children’s centres.
“There will be mums and dads in Bowthorpe and Thetford today worried about what they’re going to do with their children during the working day.
“And kids at a vital point in their educational development face being torn away from their favourite nursery nurses and uprooted from their friends thanks to these closures.”
Paul Cracknell, deputy chief executive of Norfolk Community Health and Care, said: “In the current financial climate many nurseries are finding it hard to remain open and so we are not alone in this regard.
“We have decided it is not possible to continue to run the nurseries at a loss, especially as we are a publicly-funded organisation.
“We recognise that the nurseries have been a valued local provision for families.”
He added that the trust will support families to find alternative nursery placements.