A nursery operated by Wrexham Council is set to close later this year after it was decided the facility is “unsustainable” without support from the local authority.
UPDATE: This afternoon Wrexham Council have provided a statement from the Leader of Wrexham Council Mark Pritchard, who said: “The decision to close was not taken lightly however, members took into account its current financial position and agreed that it was no longer sustainable. Sprouts opened in 2015 following an identified need for out of hours nursery provision in Wrexham. Unfortunately this need never fully materialised and we find ourselves in the position we do now. Consultation with staff and unions will take place and it is anticipated the nursery will close mid-September.”
Original information below…
Last week we reported that a debate on Sprouts Nursery on Rhosddu Road was on the agenda for this week’s Executive Board meeting with the not so cryptic title to ‘consider its future viability’.
The Executive Board discussion was held on Tuesday morning, in a private ‘Part 2’ session.
Less than 24 hours later in a letter to parents Wrexham Council’s Head of Education wrote: “It is with regret that I have to inform you that as a result of ongoing concerns about the future sustainability of Sprouts Children’s Nursery, a decision has been made by the Council’s Executive Board to close Sprouts.”
“Despite the best efforts of staff and managers to develop and deliver a comprehensive childcare provision in the Town Centre, it has become clear that the model is unsustainable without financial support from the Council but unfortunately the Council is not able to offer this support.”
Wrexham Council have explained their priorities are to support staff affected by the closure, and to help parents to find alternative provision for their children.
The timeframe for closure is listed in the letter, noting: “The proposal is to close the setting by mid- September 2017 to enable you to have sufficient time to secure alternative childcare.”
Wrexham Council also issue an apology, stating to parents: “We apologise sincerely for the inconvenience that will be caused by this decision, especially as we recognise that your children are settled in the nursery and supported by a very dedicated and committed staff team.”
Questions have previously been raised over the nursery on Rhosddu Road, with the centre opening with £155,000 backing from Welsh Government VVP funding and £90,000 from Wrexham Council – plus ongoing funding from Wrexham Council.
Sprouts was one of several projects which has received Vibrant and Viable Places funding since 2014, with other programmes including the town centre masterplan, the creation of a local lettings agency and also the conversion of the Peoples Market into an arts / market space.
We have asked Wrexham Council for wider comment on the nursery’s closure and if any Vibrant and Viable Places funding or other external expenditure will need to be repaid due to the closure.
Cllr Marc Jones, whose Grosvenor ward includes Sprouts, got in touch late last night saying: “A concerned parent has contacted me after receiving a letter today about the nursery closing in September. It’s been clear for some time that the nursery was losing significant amounts of money – approximately £5,000 a month.
“There were also some governance issues as well after a critical CSSIW report.
“Questions must now be asked of the initial business plan, which led to more than £150,000 of Welsh Government and Wrexham Council funding to be spent on the venture. That’s on top of the £100,000 loss suffered by the council.
“As the local councillor, any parent or staff member affected by this is free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07747 792441.”