Official closing date set for Ripon creche

Ripon Leisure Centre.
Ripon Leisure Centre.

An official closing date has been set for Harry's Place Childcare centre, with the creche to cease operation on May 31.

Councillor Stan Lumley, the cabinet member for culture, tourism and sport, green-lit the closure date at a meeting earlier this month.

It comes after cabinet members last month voted in favour of shutting down the creche, citing the ongoing cost of operating it as the main reason.

"The facility could be kept operational for a longer period of time. However, this option would incur additional costs in subsidising the facility, in employees’ wages and in clearing the facility. Due to these costs, this option is recommended for rejection," a report on the matter states.

Despite a five-month trial of measures implemented last year producing an improved financial performance at the centre, the projected net cost of operation still remained above £20,000 per year.

The union for council workers, UNISON, criticised the move, which will see three members of staff lose their jobs.

“The staff have been magnificent and the increase in such a short time quite phenomenal but clearly the council feels the increase is not enough," branch secretary Dave Houlgate said.

He said the union would help its impacted members try to find alternative employment.

Coun Lumley had said before the meeting that it was a "great shame" that closing down the creche had to be considered.

“It's a great regret we have to bring this to cabinet tonight. It's been on the radar for sometime, it’s a great shame,” he said at the time.

"We tried to get numbers up (since then) but it just hasn't been successful."

He said alternative options such as intermittent "pop=up" creches could be explored as a replacement.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter