Children's nursery is given marching orders to quit its premises in Milton Keynes

A children's pre-school has been evicted from its premises after asking its landlord for help.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 1:33 pm
Updated Monday, 28th September 2020, 1:38 pm

The privately-run Ducklings Preschool operates from Great Linford Memorial Hall and has been struggling during the Covid pandemic.

Owner Debbie Walters contacted the chair of the charitably-run hall asking for help, along with permission to increase their sessions to allow parents more flexibility. But she says the request was flatly refused.

Then on Friday the pre-school was issued with a notice to quit the hall in four weeks' time.

Great Linford Memorial Hall

"All of a sudden we receive an email telling us we have to be out at half term," said Debbie. "The families are really upset and no real explanation has been given other than they are re evaluating the use of the hall."

This is upsetting for everyone - staff, parents and now the disruption to the children. There is a lack of empathy and community spirit... We feel the community is being let down."

This week the chair of the committee that runs the hall, Ian Foskett, said negotiations were already in place with another "better" pre-school to use the facility.

He claims Duckling had asked for a rent reduction, though admits they were not behind with their rent and were "reliable" payers.

He said: "They have never frankly been successful. They have a tiny number of children and their numbers are up and down. As a charity our first task is to serve our community and we cannot subsidise people.

"We had a reassessment and decided the best way was to get rid of this company and get a better pre-school," he said.

Ducklings, however, dispute they are unsuccessful and blame their problems on the Covid lockdown.

"We did send a letter to parents stating that we would be closing due to low numbers, but parents have since started a campaign to save the preschool, which delighted us," said Debbie.

"Everyone was fully on board with the idea that we would continue and work together for the community. A parent actually came in last week to create a video for marketing."

Debbie said all pre-schools and nurseries had been "finding it hard" during the pandemic.

"The idea was to increase sessions which would help attract families. The families are happy with the service, we have always paid on time and have done everything we can do ensure the relationship with the hall was good."

Ducklings, which runs seven other pre-schools in MK, took the Great Linford site over when it was graded as Inadequate by Ofsted. They have since upped this status to Good.

"To be treated this way is a heartbreaking for everyone," said Debbie.