Selsey mums pull together to save ‘vital’ nursery

Parents and children against the closure of First Steps. Picture by Kate Shemilt
Parents and children against the closure of First Steps. Picture by Kate Shemilt

PARENTS are fighting against the possible closure of a nursery in Selsey, which may have to close in July.

But parents are pulling together to try to find a solution – whether it is with the current childcare providers, or taken over as a community-run nursery.

First Steps, which is run from The Selsey Centre, said it was undergoing a consultation on whether to shut the nursery because it was making a financial loss.

A meeting held on Monday evening saw parents, local authorities and First Steps discuss the future of the nursery.

But parents are concerned their children will have nowhere to go.

Sue Gratwick said her grandchild goes to 
First Steps.

“There are lots of children that are going to suffer and miss out and their parents are going to suffer, too,” she said. “How can that be justified?

“There will be a big, 
big knock-on effect if First Steps shut.”

Emma Russell, who runs her own business, said: “Childcare to me is vital as a working mum.”

Mum Lisa Lyon, said: “If they do close then we need to have a Plan B. There are a lot of mums here concerned about ongoing childcare.

“I think the idea of getting a group of us to look at an alternative, that has to be the way forward.

“If we all work together as a community, we can make sure it stays open.”

A group of mums are in talks with Selsey’s town manager Sam Tate, who will head up a steering group to come up with a solution if the nursery does decide to close – in the shape of a community-run nursery.

“We’re just going to look at getting a business plan together to see what we can do to make the nursery viable,” she said. “If we can’t, then we need to understand what the shortfall will be, and see if we can make it up by applying for grants.

“We’re planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Sue Carpenter from First Steps, spoke at Monday’s meeting, and explained why the nursery could close.

“We have been in Selsey for seven years and have not been at a point where we have reached break even,” she said. “We have to make a decision at some point in time of how we can continue.”

She said the nursery was running under-capacity, with 40 children when it could take 60.

First Steps runs from a purpose-built room in The Selsey Centre, which it rents from Selsey Town Council.

Last week the Observer reported, with information from a council spokesman, that the nursery providers had given notice to quit the building.

They have since said the nursery have given notice of ‘an intention’ to quit – and a final decision will be made by the providers at the end of February.