Parents go it alone to provide new pre-school
MUMS and dads at a Northam pre-school have had their eagerly-awaited new building snatched away by Government spending cuts – but are now looking at ways to do it for themselves. Parents at the Snapdragons Pre-School were expecting a start on a new �600,0
MUMS and dads at a Northam pre-school have had their eagerly-awaited new building snatched away by Government spending cuts - but are now looking at ways to do it for themselves.
Parents at the Snapdragons Pre-School were expecting a start on a new �600,000, state-of-the-art, premises at the end of August.
Then came a message that the cutbacks meant the proposed works were being put on hold until the end of September, while the funding was reviewed.
This week came news that it is one of four in Devon awaiting Surestart Early Years capital grants that will not now go ahead.
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Devon County Council leader John Hart said: "As the Government is having to reduce the national deficit, the spending cuts are beginning to bite. They have withdrawn nearly �1.6 million from the �13.6 million we were originally allocated. The county council had already committed over �12 million to a number of projects. Unfortunately, Northam was one of only four projects on which contracts had not been signed and which we will now not be able to go ahead with."
The mums and dads are bitterly disappointed, but rather than wringing their hands, they are now putting together plans of their own.
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Committee secretary Amanda Powe said: "We are looking for the help and support of the local community in the form of sponsorships or donations to help raise funds and help us secure a brighter future for our children at Snapdragons and those who will attend in the future," she said.
"We would also like to hear from anyone who might have empty premises locally that could be turned into a pre-school."
A variety of fund-raising events are also being planned.
Snapdragons, a registered charity run by parent volunteers, caters for 28 youngsters and has a waiting list. It currently operates from a portable building alongside St George's Infants School.
Committee member Sarah Cadogan told the Gazette that while it had gained a "good" ranking at its last Ofsted report, its setting was preventing the pre-school from achieving "outstanding."
Two years ago it had been nominated by the Early Years Education Foundation to receive funding for new premises as its facilities needed modernisation, she said.
Discussions were held on requirements, architects plans were drawn up and the project put out to tender. Church land in a corner of the school playing fields was allocated for what was to have been a space-age, low carbon building, making use of recycled materials.
It was to be the last in a series of such schools in a project to replace and update pre-schools in the county, similar to one already started in Torrington, said Sarah. In July they had been notified that builders would start work at the end of August. Then came the news that everything was being put on hold.
"We requested an audit from Early Years to confirm the need for Snapdragons in the community and the results showed that the number of pre-school places currently available is far fewerthan the number of children requiring them. This definite need has prompted us to start action now and see if there is anything we can do for ourselves."
The next of the pre-school's fund raising events is an autumn disco in the Kingsley Hall at Westward Ho! from 6pm to 8pm on October 6, with entertainment by Captain Coconut, a children's cake competition and other attractions.