VOTE: Closure of childcare service infuriates town council

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Angry town councillors have written to demand the reasons for the closure of a Bognor Regis childcare service.

The council members agreed on Monday to send the urgent letter about The Arena’s before and after-school clubs’ and holiday playscheme closing on February 18.

Six members of staff will lose their jobs when the clubs and playscheme shut. Town councillor Ken Scutt said: “We should say we are disgusted by this. We should send a very strong letter to the county council and the school.”

Cllr Paul Wells said: “We need to find out what is going on and what alternative provision is going to be made for parents whose children attend the clubs and can ill-afford not to be working.”

They decided to act after single mother Beverley Moore told them about the impact of the closure on her life and that of her nine-year-old daughter, Southway Primary School pupil Karley-Marie Moore.

The closure decision was made by the governors of The Regis School because of a lack of a suitable manager and the loss incurred by the clubs.

The clubs for primary school age children were set up in the Arena Sports Centre eight years ago.

The breakfast club is open between 7am-9am weekdays and has 12-16 members and the after-school club with 25-35 children opens between 3pm-6pm Mondays to Fridays. Holiday sessions attracted 24-32 children.

Bank customer advisor Ms Moore, 29, of Rose Green, said she was shocked when she received the closure letter.

“It was a bombshell and I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I work 42 hours a week and if I can’t find somewhere else for Karley-Marie to go after the clubs close I may have to give up my job.

“I’ve contacted 11 childminders and I’m on the waiting list of six of them.”

She said it was hard to believe a manager for the clubs could not be found in the current climate.

Mark Betts, The Regis School’s business and community manager, said every effort had been made by the governors to keep the clubs going.

“We are very disappointed the clubs have to close. It is not a decision the governors took lightly or to annoy the parents,” he said.

“But, if suitably-experienced and qualified staff can’t be found, then a childcare facility can’t be kept. It’s not a like badminton club where you can just muddle through.”

He said a private provider would be able to fill the gap and hire space at the sports centre if one was willing to take on the service.