New plans to save Bideford pre-school

Joseph Bulmer

Proposals for new early years centre lodged with district council

PLANS to safeguard the future of a Bideford pres-school described as a “lifeline” to the local community have been lodged with council planners.

The Stepping Stones Pre-School committee has applied to erect new mobile classrooms at the Pollyfield Centre in East-the-Water.

The committee hope that if proposals for the land adjacent to the existing changing rooms and car park are approved by Torridge District Council, it would enable them to attract the funding needed to fulfil the project.

In July, the Gazette reported how the pre-school, started by a group of well-meaning mums in 1968, must find new accommodation before March 30 next year or face closure.

The well-used pre-school has been run from an empty classroom at East-the-Water Primary School since 2005, but the school is now reclaiming the facilities to cater for its growing intake of pupils.

Supporters have already held a number of fund-raising events in a bid to help the pre-school afford premises of its own.

Stepping Stones committee chairman Tristan Williams said the last few months had been an unsettling time for the pre-school but was hopeful for the future.

He said: “The support from the local community and the parents of the children of the preschool has been fantastic. There are various options for the relocation of the preschool which are being pursued, several of which are moving in the right direction.

“However, whilst there may be light at the end of the tunnel, we still have some way to go and will need further support from the local community. We will update as soon as we have news.”

Vice-chairman Katie Blythe added: “We are grateful that the trustees of the Pollyfield Centre are behind us 100 per cent with our planning application and look forward to what we hope will be a long and happy future for Stepping Stones Pre-school.”

Stepping Stones is registered for 26 children and currently has more than 50 on its books. It offers childcare from as little as �2 per hour and has recently received funding status for two-year-olds.