Nursery bosses launch petition as closure looms

A petition has been started to help a long-established Fleetwood nursery find a long-term home after being given notice to quit its premises.

The Busy Bee Nursery is based at the Mount Methodist Church hall and has been established for almost 25 years.

But its future is in doubt because the Mount church building itself is set to close at the end of this year, due to financial pressures, particularly for repairs and dwindling numbers.

Busy Bee boss Jane McNair, who has been involved with the pre-school for 22 years and took over 16 years ago, says the nursery has been told it must leave the premises by December 31, when the church is set to close.

If she and husband Stewart, who own the pre-school, cannot find alternative premises it is likely their business will fold and they and their three employers will lose their livelihoods.

Mrs McNair is due to hold discussions with another Fleetwood church about possible temporary use of its premises.

But she has also approached Lancashire County Council with a view to leasing or buying the former McKee Centre building on Poulton Road, which has been empty for two years.

Mrs McNair says she has started her petition in a desperate bid to persuade the County Council to let Busy Bee Nursery make use of this vacant premises, so they have a long-term home.

She said: “It is a very worrying time. I have been ringing people up, desperately tying to find another place with enough space to accommodate the children.

“It is a shame have not been given more time by the Mount Church, because a buyer for the buildings hasn’t even been found yet.

“But the church is part of a wider circuit and they are concerned about the public liability situation if we stay on any longer, so I understand,

“Our main effort now is to try and find a long-term place at the former McKee Centre. It is lying empty, doing nothing, and we have approached county several times.”

Mr McNair said: “We are at the top of the game, with an outstanding Ofsted report and a Lancashire Quality Award. We have looked after more than 1,000 children in Fleetwood over the years, and it would be such a shame if we had to close.”

The nursery currently has 25 children aged from two to four years old, and there has been as many as 50 children on the nursery’s books.

One of the Busy Bee parents, Carole Hirst, said: “Of course I support the petition. I feel happy to leave my son Josh at Busy Bee because I know he is in fantastic hands.”

Rev Anne Jeffrey, minister at the Mount Methodist Church, said: “The decision to close the building has been a very difficult one for the church.

“The church itself is still considering its future but the decision on the church premises had to be made because of our finances.

“We are very sorry about the impact this is having on the Busy Bee playgroup and we are sympathetic to their situation, but we have reached the point in which we can no longer guarantee the safe upkeep of the building.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said the authority was aware of an approach by Busy Bees over the McKee Centre, and was looking into the issue.

Copies of the petition are in Fleetwood shops such as Plush, Sayers , Key Cut Barbers and Chatsworth chippy.