Northumberland pre-school faces closure unless new operator found

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A school nursery is facing the prospect of closure unless a new operator is found.

Swarland Pre-school, which trades as Chester Bears, has explored several options already without success.

A letter outlining its potential closure in September has now been sent to parents and the local community.

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Now they are pinning their hopes on a new operator coming forward.

Swarland Pre-school is facing the threat of closure.Swarland Pre-school is facing the threat of closure.
Swarland Pre-school is facing the threat of closure.

John Scott, committee chairman, explained: “We have spoken to three or four local nurseries already to see if they would be interested in taking it on.

"We’ve also been in talks with the local authority and Swarland Primary School to explore the options.

"Unfortunately there is either not enough money available or local providers are not in a position to expand at the moment.

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"So we’re in a position where we’re able to keep running until the summer holidays but after that will probably have to close the doors.”

There are 10 pupils on the roll at the moment but that is forecast to half in September, hitting its finances further.

“If we had 10 children it would be viable,” explained Mr Scott. “We can have up to 17 in the building so it’s a reasonable size.

“One of the challenges we have is that we’re open from 9am to 3pm at the moment whereas most nurseries offer an 8am to 5pm service which is better for working parents.”

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However, he believes the pre-school still has a valuable place in the Swarland community.

"It would be tough for local families if it closes,” he said. “The nearest alternative provision would be in Felton, Shilbottle or Longframlington and there might not be spaces.

"And if we close it would potentially have a longer-term impact on Swarland Primary which has a direct feed from us.”

The pre-school opened in 1982 using a spare classroom in Swarland Primary School.

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In 1994 it moved to a new location in the school grounds at the bottom of Chester Hill and, in 1995, joined forces with Longframlington Pre-school.

A new and expanded unit was opened in 2008 after £60,000 was raised.

Any prospective operators should email [email protected]