Parents are breathing a sigh of relief this evening with news that the children’s nursery at the College of West Anglia’s Lynn campus is to stay open.
After a hard-fought campaign by mums and dads, the college has today announced the withdrawal of its proposal to close the Apple Wood Nursery from the end of July.
The college announced in March that it was looking at closing the Tennyson Road nursery to help plug a £1.7 funding gap, saying government cuts meant it could no longer afford to subsidise the facility.
Angry parents launched a campaign to keep it open, with a petition attracting more than 600 signatures. They also held a protest outside the college and held meetings with its principal David Pomfret.
But now the college has attracted extra funding to keep the “valuable” service open – delighting parents and the 15 full and part-time members of nursery staff who had faced losing their jobs.
Mr Pomfret said: “I am delighted to be able to announce that we are withdrawing the original proposals and Apple Wood nursery will remain open. I can confirm that we have secured sustainability funding from Norfolk County Council Early Years and Childcare team to enable the nursery to continue to operate and will also be working with this team to develop a sustainable business model to ensure the nursery is viable on a long-term basis.
“As I said during my recent meetings with parents, I really value our nursery and recognise its position as one of the best childcare providers in the area; the proposal to close was reluctantly made and based purely on financial viability. I also understand how valuable the service is to parents and, during the consultation period, I was able to hear and read first hand just how passionately parents feel about the important role the nursery plays in the lives of our students, staff and the local community, who are using it in increasing numbers.
“I am confident that, with this support from NCC and the ongoing commitment of our staff, we will be able to make the changes necessary to ensure the long-term future of this valuable service.”
The news was welcomed by health and social care student Kayleigh Enefer, 19, from Clenchwarton, whose 21-month-old daughter attends the nursery.
She said: “I was so happy when I heard that I nearly cried. I’m really pleased they are keeping the nursery open and Sophia will be happy to be going back in September.”
The decision to offer sustainability funding to Apple Wood was made following a bid to Norfolk County Council’s Early Years Funding Panel.
The Panel recognised the importance of this provision in ensuring there is sufficient high quality childcare in Lynn.
Richard Bearman, vice chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “Apple Wood Nursery is a vital resource for the local community and I am pleased that we have been able to provide sustainability funding to help secure its future.
“We want to ensure that there are sufficient childcare places across the county so that children can benefit from good quality early education and parents can have the opportunity to both work and learn.
“We will now be working closely with the College of West Anglia to support the nursery to develop a sustainable business model, so that it can continue to support families in King’s Lynn in the future.”