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Relief for parents after closure-threatened nursery strikes deal with St John Ambulance

PUBLISHED: 16:30 26 August 2020

The hall used by the nursery is owned by St John Ambulance  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The hall used by the nursery is owned by St John Ambulance Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A Felixstowe nursery threatened by closure will be able to reopen for the new term after striking a last-minute deal with landlords the St John Ambulance.

Katharine, her husband Adam and her son Quinton Picture: KATHARINE MITTONKatharine, her husband Adam and her son Quinton Picture: KATHARINE MITTON

Felixstowe Nursery School had been facing an uncertain future after being told on Monday they had just a week to vacate the training centre in Taka Road.

St John Ambulance owns the hall but is looking to close a number of its buildings across the country as part of its coronavirus recovery programme.

News of a possible closure came as pupils had been expected to return to the nursery on September 3 and following the closure of two other nurseries in Felixstowe.

The nursery was hoping to agree a sale with St John’s Ambulance after asking for an extension to its leaving date, which was initially denied.

St Johns Ambulance Hall in Felixstowe  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDSt Johns Ambulance Hall in Felixstowe Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

However, following negotiations on Wednesday with the nursery, St John’s Ambulance has recommitted to the nursery’s future allowing it to stay until Christmas.

Katharine Mitton’s, three-year-old son Quinton goes to the nursery.

She started a petition against the closure which has gathered almost 700 signatures.

“My husband had been furloughed but is supposed to be going back full time next week,” said Mrs Mitton.

Quinton Mitton, a pupil at Felixstowe Nursery School Picture: KATHARINE MITTONQuinton Mitton, a pupil at Felixstowe Nursery School Picture: KATHARINE MITTON

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Mrs Mitton said she had been concerned she would have to cancel her overtime at work because of the changes and had been concerned about the impact the nursery’s closure would have on her son.

“He doesn’t have any siblings and his cousins are all a different age, so he just really needs that interaction now,” said Mrs Mitton.

She was pleased by the news that the nursery was safe in the short term: “It’s definitely a good start. Fingers crossed for the future.”

The nursery will be able to stay until December  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe nursery will be able to stay until December Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

A St John Ambulance spokesperson said: “St John Ambulance is consulting on the closure of over 100 buildings across England as part of its COVID recovery plan. The building in Ataka Road, Felixstowe, is one of these sites.

“Recognising the importance of providing child care during the pandemic both for the children concerned and in order that key workers and other parents can return to their jobs, we have spoken to the nursery and are currently making arrangements for the Ataka Road site to be open for their use from September 3.

“We will continue to work with the nursery and our St John people locally to ensure that the closure of Ataka Road is completed and all services currently provided there are able to make alternative arrangements.

“However, it is great that the nursery has been interested in purchasing the building. We would need to abide by Charity Commission regulations and get an independent valuation and market it appropriately. We will keep the nursery informed as this process progresses and support them as best as we can.”

Suffolk County Council said it was helping the nursery to look at other options.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We are working with Felixstowe Nursery School in the hope of securing a temporary premises.

“If an alternative venue is secured, we will work with Ofsted to expedite the registration process.”

Those with concerns about childcare should contact the Family Information Service on 0345 60 800 33.


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