Brightlingsea: Parents’ anger as Playcentre nursery faces axe

PARENTS are “outraged” after it emerged a �300,000 taxpayer-funded nursery faces closure just weeks after opening its doors.

Brightlingsea Playcentre was given money to extend its pre-school by Essex County Council, to solve a nursery education crisis in the town.

Bizzy Bees, the town’s other pre-school, closed down last summer, leaving education chiefs scrambling to plug a shortfall in nursery places.

Carolyn Rix, who helps run Brightlingsea Playcentre, used the �300,000 to build a prefabricated facility behind the existing centre at Bayard Recreation Ground. Tendring District Council gave the building planning permission for two years from August 2010.

But last week Peter Hill, a planning officer at the authority, reportedly told Mrs Rix’s architect he was not recommending permission be extended beyond 2012.

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Mrs Rix, who only opened the extension in March, enabling her to go from having 56 to 106 children, said: “Parents are outraged, they are all sending their comments to Tendring and there’s not one negative one.

“If people don’t stand up and be counted, when taxpayers’ money has gone into the building, then this country is not somewhere I want to live. Spending that money, when we’re in a depression, and then allowing this building to be ripped down would be outrageous.

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“I’m gutted. Where will these children go? It’s not for my benefit, it’s for the community.

“We’re a charity-run nursery – we don’t make a profit. It all goes straight back into the facility.

Mrs Rix said Essex County Council had invited her to apply for the funding after Brighlingsea’s Bizzy Bees shut down in July 2010.

Graham Steady, who represents Brightlingsea on TDC, said: “In these days of austerity what do we do? Spend �300,000 and then say take it away in two years’ time. Where’s the logic in that?

“If this permission is withdrawn people would have to travel out of town to access a facility and lots of mums cannot do that.

“I think he [Peter Hill] is way off the mark to be quite honest. If you look at the buildings on the recreation ground nothing is in keeping.”

Nigel Brown, TDC’s communications manager, said: “It is due to be on the agenda at a council planning committee meeting on April 19, so it will therefore be up to the members of the committee to make a decision at their meeting.”

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