'They're taking away an absolute godsend': the vital not-for-profit nursery facing eviction

Diggle Dandelions, on the grounds of Diggle Primary
Diggle Dandelions, on the grounds of Diggle Primary -Credit:Google

The decision to close a town’s only community preschool would leave working parents in a “difficult position”, a number of “devastated” families say. Diggle Dandelions in Saddleworth is facing the risk of imminent closure since Diggle Primary School served an eviction notice on the not-for-profit nursery.

The preschool, which has an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating, is also one of few daycare centres in Diggle that offer free and flexible care hours for under three-year-olds.

One Diggle dad, who didn’t wish to be identified, said: “It’s the only community preschool here, all the rest are private. It’ll be more money coming out of low income families’ pockets.

"It’s going to massively impact us.”

He said placing his two-year-old with the preschool had made a ‘huge’ difference to how much and how regularly he was able to work.

Parents are 'nervously' awaiting the results of a consultation about the nursery’s future that ended last Friday (April 19). But many believe the decisions have already been made behind closed doors, as the teachers at Diggle Dandelions received the eviction notice before the consultation started.

Diggle Primary governors are reportedly considering the closure of the preschool, which uses part of the school’s grounds, in order to open their own nursery. But the new site would not be offering places to two-year-olds.

Preschool manager Jenna Evans said: “They are not taking on two year olds and that is what this village and our community and our parents need. So you can imagine how distressed the parents are.

Diggle Dandelions is facing the threat of closure after 14 years of serving the community.
Diggle Dandelions is facing the threat of closure after 14 years of serving the community. -Credit:Susan Rushworth

“It’s an expensive area. The fees at other nurseries are excessive and some of the parents simply can’t afford it.”

Parents and teachers are also unhappy with the way the closure has been handled, with one parent calling the handling “disingenuous if not negligent”.

Guardians are left “scrambling” to get places at other preschools, most of which have long waiting lists, Phil - another Diggle dad - told the LDRS.

“A lot of places are already filled up. It’s really stressful,” he said. “You need to have childcare, otherwise you can’t do your day job."

But for Phil, the worst part is the 'upheaval' it will cause for his three-year-old son, who he says 'adores' the staff. He called the preschool, which has served Diggle for more than 14 years “an absolute godsend”.

He added: “We’re devastated that it’s closing given the quality of the service and the amount that the staff care.”

Nursery staff are calling for support from the local community and Oldham Council to keep the nursery running.

Preschool manager Evans said: “If we can’t be saved in this building then what we’re hoping for is more voices so the council will hear our story and possibly try and find a new premises somewhere else.”

The council said they recognised the concerns raised by Diggle Dandelions and the impact this decision may have on the community. With the consultation period now finished, members of the council promised to meet with school governors to discuss the feedback.

A spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting Diggle Dandelions, an established pre-school, in exploring available options. We will continue to provide advice and guidance to any families affected by this situation.”

Diggle Primary School declined to comment at this stage.