Nursery saved from closure

Pomfret Neighbourhood Nursery - which had been earmarked for closure - has been saved. The council confirmed it will hand the facility over to the Pomfret Woodlands Parents Group.
Pomfret Neighbourhood Nursery - which had been earmarked for closure - has been saved. The council confirmed it will hand the facility over to the Pomfret Woodlands Parents Group.
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DETERMINED parents, staff and members of the community have saved an under-threat nursery in Pontefract from the axe.

The future of Pomfret Neighbourhood Nursery on Rookhill Road is now secure after a group of committed residents and nursery staff won their plea to take over the facility.

Pomfret Woodland Community Group learned last week that Wakefield Council has agreed to transfer the Chequerfield nursery to them from September 1.

Mum-of-two Sam Sherburn, whose three-year-old son Farris attends the nursery, has been working alongside parents, councillors and Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper to turn the centre into a social enterprise.

Mrs Sherburn said: “I’m so glad it’s staying open because I can look forward to my son Isaac starting nursery in October.

“If it hadn’t stayed open, I would have had to look at childcare outside the area or not returning to work. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but this is a start.”

The council earmarked three neighbourhood nurseries - Pomfret, Airedale Nursery in Kendal Drive, and St Swithun’s in Wakefield – for closure last November.

Cabinet members said they could no longer afford to subsidise the cost of running the nurseries and said Pomfret was running at a loss of £69,000.

Mrs Sherburn, of Ashleigh Avenue, Pontefract, presented a business plan to the council in March which was drawn up by the community group to save the Pomfret nursery.

She said: “We’re happy the council are supporting us and we feel we can work together now whereas before it was quite negative.

“Overall it’s a much-needed nursery in the area and we want to thank the Pontefract councillors and Yvette Cooper, if it hadn’t have been for them we wouldn’t have got this far.”

Mrs Sherburn, 37, said the group would meet the council next week to discuss the transfer, which will see the nursery turn into a non-profit organisation managed by volunteers.

She added current nursery staff would remain at the site and the group would start applying for funding to make the facility sustainable.

Pontefract councillor Geoff Walsh, said: “I think it’s a really great thing that the parents have come together and put forward their plan and I think it’s very positive the council has been supporting them.

“It’s great that the parents are going to be able to provide much needed nursery provision. It’s a great example of the council working with determined, dedicated parents and good faith prevailing.”

Ms Cooper added: “Pontefract parents rely on nurseries like Pomfret so it’s a great tribute to local parents that they’ve been so determined.

“We’ve all been working really hard to keep the nursery open, so it’s great that a deal has been reached with council support to secure its future.”

No proposals were received to run the Airedale facility and a proposal for St Swithun’s was later withdrawn. Both sites will close on September 7.