New companies created in bid to get closed nurseries reopened within weeks
PUBLISHED: 13:37 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:37 02 December 2019
Two new companies have been set up by council bosses to reopen the nurseries, day centres and a school which closed suddenly last week - leaving youngsters without care places.
And the aim is to get the nurseries re-opened within weeks, with staff who have lost their jobs potentially being offered new roles as early as December 11.
The Great Yarmouth Community Trust entered liquidation last week, with the closure of six Norfolk nurseries, plus the Horatio House school in Lowestoft and Nexus Engineering in Gorleston. Two nurseries in Lowestoft also closed.
The closure of the nurseries affected about 290 children, although Norfolk County Council says 99 have been accommodated at 14 other providers in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston.
And council leader Andrew Proctor today revealed how he has taken the urgent decision to create new companies - NCC Nurseries Ltd and NCC HH Ltd.
Mr Proctor said: "The council wants to ensure that there are sufficient nursery spaces in the Great Yarmouth area, to support children's early education and to make sure parents can access their entitlement to funded places for two, three and four-year-olds.
"Due to the significant loss of places in Great Yarmouth, the council has created a new company, NCC Nurseries Ltd, which will seek to reopen as many of the provision as possible by the middle of December.
"This is subject to negotiations with landlords and to other issues outside the council's direct control in what is a complex situation.
"Meetings are being held with affected front-line nursery staff tomorrow to discuss their individual circumstances.
"Subject to employment checks, we expect to offer all staff employment in the new service as early as December 11."
The council is awaiting registration from Ofsted for Horatio House, which educates 18 excluded youngsters.
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Mr Proctor said he hoped that would be in place for the school to reopen on January 6, with home learning packages and tutors in place for those children in the meantime.
Staff who worked at the school are meeting council bosses today and are likely to be offered jobs in the new company.
Students from six high schools who attended Nexus Engineering as part of their studies will be helped to find alternative places, Staff Yarmouth's Priory Centre, which had become an early childhood and family service base as part of the council's move to close children's centres and remodel the service, have been moved to Great Yarmouth Library.
Mr Proctor says the council aimed to reopen the Priory Nursery, which has closed, there.
Other Yarmouth nurseries affected were Calthorpe Nursery, Peggotty Nursery and Willow Day Nursery.
A further three nurseries which have closed are the Ladybird Day Care at Kirkley Children's Centre, the Little Ducks Day Nursery, both in Lowestoft, the Little Blossoms Nursery in Filby and the Seagulls Day Nursery in Gorleston.
Mr Proctor said: "This is a complex and fast-moving situation and I would like to thank all the officers across the authority for the work they have done so quickly and so professionally."
But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at County Hall questioned whether it was right that Mr Proctor has made the decision to set up the new companies.
He said: "I'm pleased to see officers acting quickly but this has been a major upset for families and the community.
"The services they relied on and the organisations they understood and trusted were effectively undermined when children's centres were closed and the funding was cut by Tory county councillors.
"It's a mess that shouldn't have needed clearing up and one we warned was a risk when we opposed children's centres closures."
Suffolk County Council has been helping parents of the children who went to the Lowestoft nurseries to find alternative childcare arrangements for their children.