County steps in to save village nursery

A VILLAGE nursery will be staying open after a solution was found with Northumberland County Council.

The service, which provides day care and after-school care for 65 children and employs 11 members of staff, needs to restructure in order to continue to receive financial support from the authority and other funders.

Management at Noah’s Ark Nursery in Lynemouth said the restructuring would cost about £30,000 and the facility may have to close, but following a campaign to show its importance within the community, county council officers have stepped in to help make sure its long-term future is secure.

Work is underway to create a new business model and some changes may need to be made, but they should only be minor.

Joanne Fairfax, who manages the nursery with Lindsay Lamb, said: “We’re working with the county council on the business plan and we’re confident that it will be sustainable so we can continue to operate.

“Although we’re looking at where we can make savings, we’re hoping to keep all our services we provide at the moment. The staff that have stayed with us will retain their jobs.

“The issues we’ve faced have given parents an insight into the business and some of them are looking to form a fund-raising committee to help and support the future of Noah’s Ark.

“We’re very grateful to Sir Alan Beith’s office and our local county councillor Milburn Douglas, who have actively been involved in raising the profile of the nursery and stressing how vital it is that we remain open.

“We’re still appealing for financial support, so any donations would be very welcome.”

Noah’s Ark is a private company that was established in 2004 as part of a Government initiative to provide purpose-built childcare nurseries in areas of social deprivation.

It has been hampered by cuts to Working Tax Credits, which have seen some parents turn to relatives for childcare, and reductions in the number of children referred for respite care.

In a letter to parents of children at the nursery, county council corporate director of children’s services Paul Moffat said he is deeply concerned about the potential closure of a facility that provides an important service for local residents.

He says the authority is doing everything it can to help the nursery with its business model to ensure that it will have a long-term future.