COUNCILLORS have agreed to secure the future of a Northwich nursery which was hit by financial strife last year.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet voted to recommission Victoria Road nursery at Wednesday’s meeting.

It comes after its previous operators Safehands Care Ltd ceased trading on December 21, 2018, after entering financial difficulties – and an interim provider for the nursery was found to run it.

But now CWAC will look for a new provider for the nursery to take over from September – securing the future of the site, which is registered to support up to 72 children aged up to five years old.

Cllr Nicole Meardon, CWAC cabinet member for children and families, said: “The council receives money for early years provision through the dedicated schools grant to cover the cost of two, three and four-year-olds eligible for free places.

Northwich Guardian:

“Therefore there is no impact to council budgets, however we should note that unfortunately from 2017, the new early years’ national funding formula has meant that the base rate of funding for nursery places has reduced in Cheshire West.

“This, along with rising staffing and pension costs, has placed childcare providers in a difficult position.

“But our early years team and our early years childcare commissioners are aware of these pressures – and work tirelessly with our providers to ensure that there is a good business plan in place and they fully understand the situation.”

CWAC also agreed to recommission the Overhall and Wharton children’s centres in Winsford, which are currently run by Sunrise Nurseries.

The local authority will look for the new provider for all three nurseries at the same time – with each provider set to be issued three-year contracts, with the options to extend the contract after that.

“We felt it prudent to recommission the three [nurseries] in line with our best practice on value for money,” Cllr Meardon added.

“Early indications from the market is that we should have a positive response from the indications to tender.”