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Pre-school charity is closed after ‘financially sinking’
4:10pm Monday 2nd December 2013 in Local News
PARENTS whose children attend a popular nursery say they were given no choice but to vote for its closure.
Stepping Stones, in Nevendon Park, Wickford, has shut after 35 years, after a majority of parents voted for closure because committee members who ran it claimed it was failing to stay afloat financially.
Desperate pleas from some parents fell on deaf ears at an emergency general meeting.
A crisis committee was set up to try to sort out the problem, but the committee told 30 parents who attended the meeting on Wednesday, the charity was sinking financially.
Disillusioned parents said the committee had no answers to their questions and they had to vote whether they wanted to keep the nursery open without knowing the full facts.
Craig Smith, 43, of Wallace Drive, Wickford, has taken his four children to the centre for more than ten years. He said: “The meeting was pointless.
“They seemed to sway people to think keeping it open wasn’t a good idea.
“I went with all these questions and no one had any answers. The committee didn’t know if rent or staff had been paid, parents’ cheques had been cashed, or whether we could save the nursery by raising funds.”
Some 26 parents voted to close the centre, three said it should remain open and six abstained.
Mr Smith is now at a loss as to what to do with his daughter Imogen, aged three, who has a condition which leaves her unable to speak.
He said: “There are no places at other schools.
“Imogen has verbal dyspraxia which means her brain doesn’t communicate signals for her to speak, but she was doing really well at Stepping Stones and had made a lot of progress.
“I never heard a bad word said against the school.
“They had been planning the Christmas play and it’s lovely to see your child up there having fun and developing. Parents will now miss their child’s first school performance.”
The nursery temporarily shut without warning on November 15, with just a note on the door stating it was due to “unforeseen financial circumstances, beyond our control”.
Since then, parents have had no contact from the charity, according to Mr Smith.
Charity Commission records for the centre show Stepping Stones began making a loss in 2010, with the last available records, for 2012, showing it had lost £4,340 that year.
The Echo contacted Stepping Stones, but no one was available for comment.
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