Warning saved nurseries may not prove to be financially viable

PUBLISHED: 17:21 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:21 16 January 2020

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Not all of the nurseries which were saved by Norfolk County Council will necessarily be financially viable in the long-term, it has been warned.

The Priory Day Nursery in Great Yarmouth has shut. Picture: GoogleMapsThe Priory Day Nursery in Great Yarmouth has shut. Picture: GoogleMaps

When Great Yarmouth Community Trust called in the liquidators in November, six Norfolk nurseries closed.

The closure of the nurseries affected about 300 children, but the county council stepped in to get them re-opened.

The council created a new company, NCC Nurseries Ltd which re-opened the nurseries last month, employing staff who had worked for the trust.

Extra support is being provided by county council staff.

The affected Norfolk nurseries were Priory Day Nursery, Peggotty Nursery, Calthorpe Nursery, and Willow Day Nursery all in Great Yarmouth, Seagulls Day Nursery in Gorleston and Filby Nursery.

At a meeting of the Conservative-controlled cabinet this week, the business plan for the council-owned company which took over the nurseries was approved.

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Councillors were told that the company's objective was to be financially viable and was aiming to break even for March 2021.

The budget drawn up is for £1.1m income and £1.1m expenditure.

But officers acknowledge the initial budget was based upon limited information due to the need to get the nurseries reopened quickly.

The report stated: "Until the business has been operational for two to three months, there will remain significant uncertainty as to the level of income, the ongoing operational costs and, therefore, the financial viability of each individual nursery.

"During the reporting period, the directors will review each nursery regarding its financial viability, and this may have a significant impact upon the overall company's financial position.

"The financial viability review will include consideration of the charges to parents and carers for privately funded provision."

Ultimately, the company will also seek alternative providers to run the nurseries, so it can withdraw from the sector at "an appropriate time".

Graham Plant, deputy leader of the council, said the closures had been a "heavy blow for Yarmouth", but communities welcomed the council's quick work to get them open again.

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