In the summer the 70-space Rocking Horse Nursery was given notice to quit by Christmas but the council’s Policy & Resources Committee today agreed to a request for it to stay until the end of the school year in July.
Last month the council agreed that the Grange will officially close at the end of October, almost a year earlier than initially planned, as all the pupils and teaching staff have already left. A report to the committee today revealed that the intention is to knock down the old school buildings as soon after the nursery has left the space it has rented there for 25 years, although the longer term intention for the site has not been revealed.
A campaign has been under way to save the nursery with more than 1,000 signatures gathered on a petition and support secured from local politicians, including Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore.
As a result of campaign coverage in The Week In, the manager of the sports centre at the Sir Bernard Lovell Academy in Oldland Common has come forward to offer the nursery plot of land that is currently overgrown. Nursery owners are working with the sports centre to facilitate a move but estimate this will take at least six months as planning permission is needed, the land would need clearing and portable buildings erected.
Pleading for an extension to the lease the Grange until their new home is ready, campaign spokeswoman Helen Waddington today urged the council to “do what you can to help us move”.
And she pointed out that although the report to the committee states that the cost of managing the buildings is £12,000 a month, the council would have budgeted for that as the original closure date was not until the end of next August.
With parents and children in mind, Tory councillor Jon Hunt proposed that the council extend the notice period to summer 2017 to give the nursery time to relocate. He added that the council had been in conversation with the nursery as early as January 2015 when the owners had been informed that they would have to vacate if and when the Grange closed. He said they were given six months’ notice to leave in June 2016 but did not tell parents until last month.
Labour councillor Pat Rooney acknowledged that there had been a “problem with communication” between the council and the nursery between last summer and this summer and urged the council to support the nursery in its move to SBL.
Parents who attended this morning’s meeting shed tears of relief after learning that the council had agreed to their request for an extension of the lease.
Lead campaigner Laura Williams thanked The Week In on behalf of parents, children and staff for highlighting the campaign since it began last month.
She said: “We were contacted by the manager of Sir Bernard Lovell Sports Centre who had read the article about the campaign in The Week In and wanted to see if we were interested in moving the nursery there. As a result, we have a very real prospect of a new home, and it’s all thanks to you.”
Nursery owner Julia Davies added: “We are over the moon with this decision. We are now working hard on securing a new home in order to provide continuous and ongoing nursery provision in the area. We’ve been overwhelmed with the support we’ve received from parents and the local community and would like to thank everyone for helping to save our nursery.”