Staff 'distraught' after sought-after nursery closes

Woodside One Neighbourhood Nursery in Woodside Road, Norwich, which is closing because of financial struggles

Woodside One Neighbourhood Nursery in Heartsease, Norwich, is closing because of financial struggles according to county councillor John Fisher (pictured) - Credit: Kate Oakley/Norfolk County Council

Distraught staff at a council-owned nursery which is closing because financial troubles have said parents and staff would have fought hard to save it if they had been warned.

Woodside One Neighbourhood Nursery in Woodside Road, Norwich, run by Norfolk County Council will open for the final day on August 31.

John Fisher Pic: Norfolk County Council.

John Fisher Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

After the closure was confirmed in May, Conservative county councillor John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services, said: "Woodside One is losing money and struggling to recruit staff. This means business isn’t viable.

"I understand this is upsetting for staff and families and we will be doing everything we can to support them, including helping parents find alternative childcare."

A council spokeswoman said at the time the nursery was predicted to make a loss of more than £70,000 this year.

She added efforts were made to keep it open including considering increasing fees, reducing expenditure and the closure of the baby room in February.

Woodside One Neighbourhood Nursery. Picture: Kate Oakley

Woodside One Neighbourhood Nursery in Woodside Road, Norwich - Credit: Kate Oakley

But an ex-member of staff said: "What the council is saying is not true. The fees at Woodside One have not increased for several years. Many of the parents would have liked to pay more to keep their children in a familiar setting with people they trust.

"Woodside One has a good reputation and is sought-after in Norwich. People are shocked it is closing.

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"If the county council had bothered to meet with parents and staff and tell us about the financial situation we would have done anything to give it a fighting chance." 

After the shock announcement was made, the nursery employed 16 staff and had 74 children aged two, three and four - 29 of which will start school in September, according to the council.

The ex-nursery worker said there was minimal support for staff and parents to find new roles and childcare places. 

She added around half the staff have left or handed in their notice meaning outside staff have been brought in.

"Myself and the other girls love the nursery, children and parents. The closure has broken our hearts. We are distraught. Every staff member feels undervalued. We have had to pick up the pieces and deal with the aftermath," the ex-worker said.

The council spokeswoman said the authority considered the option of increasing nursery fees.