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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Plea for help to save Cumbrian childcare centre from closure

A childcare centre faces closure unless it can harness more parent power.

The team behind Aspatria Community Childcare has secured £15,000 in grants from Cumbria County Council to keep it going.

That money is being given in three £5,000 installments, the first of which has already been handed over.

But a condition of receiving the cash is that the group needs to demonstrate it has a stronger committee and that it is looking for other sources of funding.

Unless the organisation – part of Aspatria Community Initiative – can show it is making that progress, future installments may not materialise.

In a letter this week, Aspatria Community Childcare chairman Gerald Sewell said there was a disappointing turnout at a recent parents’ update meeting – with only three people attending.

He wrote: “The future of childcare in Aspatria, in its present format, was not certain unless the community of Aspatria indicated by their actions that they were committed to ensuring the nursery’s long-term future.”

Mr Sewell said that those present at the meeting were reminded that Aspatria Community Initiative and Aspatria Community Childcare was a community enterprise company, set up for the benefit of the town and was owned by the community.

His letter added: “Those present were informed that the county council had agreed to provide a significant support package – this being seen to be a positive development.

“Also seen as being particularly significant was the news that staff members had agreed to a cut in wages of five per cent; at the same time our staff were successful in securing a good report from OFSTED.

“No-one can doubt the professionalism or level of commitment within our organisation – which reinforces the view that it is a valuable community asset in Aspatria.

“The support package, however, comes with an obligation to implement an action plan to ensure long-term sustainability.

“Specifically, the action plan sets out the requirement that the board of trustees/directors be strengthened with more active members from the local community.”

Mr Sewell said that the support package was dependent upon more directors and trustees coming forward.

He added: “It cannot be emphasised too strongly that the future of the nursery is still very much in doubt unless volunteers come forward to support the present trustee/directors in ensuring that the action plan is implemented effectively.”

The letter added that the organisation’s treasurer – Dennis Harland – has said that if there was no significant interest in new directors coming forward by the end of March he would stay on as a consultant to ensure a smooth transition over to the new treasurer.

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