Parents’ shock as nursery closes

Highfield Day Nurery (Brightstart), Highfield Road, South Shore
Highfield Day Nurery (Brightstart), Highfield Road, South Shore
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CHILDCARE workers have lost their jobs and parents have been left out of pocket after a nursery went bust.

Administrators were called into Highfield Day Nursery in South Shore – which operated under the Bright Start Nurseries Fylde Ltd banner – on Monday after the firm got into financial difficulty due to debts and cash flow problems.

Parents – just days after they had paid their child care fees – were forced to find emergency childcare while 12 staff members were told they had been made redundant.

Charlotte McQuilliam, 22, from St Annes, whose three-year-old daughter had attended the nursery since she was six-months-old, said: “I was only told when I arrived to pick my daughter up. It was awful.

“I’d just paid £416 which put me nearly a month in advance. I was so upset and angry.

“I’m in the position where I have to work full time. They’ve been the other half of raising her. The staff were in tatters. It wasn’t nice at all.

“I’ve had to take a week off work to sort out a new nursery.”

Her sister, Victoria Begg, 27, from South Shore, had just paid £150 up front when enrolling her five-month-old son at the nursery.

She said: “We can’t afford to lose out on this money. I handed my money over on Friday for part-time child care and he was due to start there next week. They must have known about it. It’s disgusting. I’m just really upset about it all.”

Administrators Zolfo Cooper were also called in to Bright Start Care Home on Roundhay in Marton, which cares for people with brain injuries, although it is currently still trading.

It is thought the administrators are now looking for a buyer for the business.

Steve Barratt, director of the care home and nursery who lives in Spain, said he had built the businesses up over the last eight years and was devastated by what has happened.

He said: “It is out of my hands and the bank have made the call and no longer want to support me after 12 years with them

“The bank only rang me at 7pm on Friday to tell me they were putting them into administration.

“I’ve invested about £1.5m in it all. The bank will take it all off me. I’ve lost everything. My family and I were going to move back from Spain – we were coming back to work on the care home. Now we haven’t even got a home.

“It’s down to the recession. Highfield Road nursery provides for 55 children but we have only got 17 in. The staffing ratio was too high. We have still got to pay the staff their wages even if there are fewer children in. The Government doesn’t help.

“The bank will lend you an umbrella but take it off you when it rains. It’s terrible. This business has been going over eight years. It’s been very hard for us. The banks should help you.

“I paid every member of staff on Friday. To then get told we are closing you down is terrible.

“I have built up some great staff, who, with me, wanted to give five star services to the community. Too many people bleed business dry, I have only invested back in to them all.”

Staff at Highfield Day Nursery say they are distraught after losing their jobs.

A member of staff said: “Parents came in and we had to tell them we were in administration.

“The staff were in until 9.30pm calling all of the parents to make sure they knew we’d be closed the next day.

“We can’t believe what’s happened. There’s a lot of girls here now with no job.

“Parents have had no notice and have had to take their children to different nurseries without having time to check them out.

“It’s just so bad what’s happened.”

Members of Blackpool Council’s early years team were sent to Highfield Day Nursery on Monday to offer support to parents.

David Lund, executive director for children, adults and families, said: “The council has worked to find emergency places in nurseries for the families and has now been able to successfully relocate the majority of the children We recognise the news of this closure has come as a shock to many families but we have systems in place to suitably help people who are affected.”

The Gazette understands Mr Barratt owns a second nursery, Daisy Chain on Clarence Avenue in Cleveleys, which is unaffected and still trading.

Mr Barratt added: “Daisy Chain continues to trade with the great Daisy Chain team.”