School’s race against time to find a home

Busy Bee Pre-School, Fleetwood. Back row (from left): Angela Syms, Jane McNair (pre-school practitioner), Vicky Bainbriddge. Front: Lilly-Mai Allinson, Milly Crotty, Ollie Melvin Bainbridge.
Busy Bee Pre-School, Fleetwood. Back row (from left): Angela Syms, Jane McNair (pre-school practitioner), Vicky Bainbriddge. Front: Lilly-Mai Allinson, Milly Crotty, Ollie Melvin Bainbridge.
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A long-established Fleetwood pre-school is desperately trying to find a new home after being given notice to quit its premises.

The Busy Bee Pre-School is based at the Mount Methodist Church hall on Mount Road and has been established for 22 years.

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

Busy Bee boss Jane McNair 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 Stuart, who own the nursery, 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 use of its premises, but the outcome of this is still uncertain.

And in addition she has approached Lancashire County Council with an offer to lease or buy the former McKee Centre building on Poulton Road, which has been empty for two years,

However, this is progressing slowly and Mrs McNair fears Busy Bee will run out of time.

She told 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. But it is just not easy.

“Some of our parents were unhappy at first that we have not been given more time by the church, because a buyer for the buildings hasn’t even been found yet. But the church is part of a wider circuit and says it would be better if the building is a vacant possession if it is to be sold, so I understand that.

“It is such a shame about the church closing, we have been perfectly happy here for 22 years and never had any problems. The church has always been good to us.”

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

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 Bee over the McKee Centre, and was looking into the issue.

If anyone is able to offer alternative premises to the group, phone Jane on 07759 700278.