The closure of a Cupar nursery ran the risk of a becoming a political football with accusations of wilful distortion of the number of nursery places.
But Claire Wilson, owner of the Mayfield Playfield Nursery which closed its doors this week, defused the situation.
She told the Herald, that while Fife Council’s decision not to offer the nursery partnership funding was part of the reason for closing, lack of pupils and the stress on her family had also been major factors in her decision to close.
“I’ve been fire fighting for the last six months to try to get children in,” she said.
And she said that all the children attending the nursery – around 60 in all – had found places elsewhere.
Partnership funding enables parents to access 15 free hours per week is decided by Fife Council.
News of the closure came hard on the heels of the announcement that Cupar’s only other private nursery, The Beehive, was to close its facility at Elmwood, and consolidate provision at its Tannage Close site.
Roderick Campbell, SNP MSP for North East Fife, commented: “I have had parents come to me with some concerns but I have already spoken with council officials about the effect the closure could have.
“I understand that some children from Mayfield Playfield have already been given alternative places, and I have also been assured that Westfield Nursery, in Cupar, has the capacity to accept more than 20 children.”
And Mr Campbell urged parents: “I am encouraging anybody who has yet to secure alternative childcare arrangements for their children to speak to Fife Council’s Early Years Team or with other, local, nurseries as soon as possible.”
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie looked to the council: “We need swift action from the council to coordinate this extraordinary situation,” he said, claiming that only one nursery was left in Cupar – although there is a council-run nursery in addition to The Beehive.
Carrie Lindsay, Fife Council’s Head of Education & Children’s Services (Early Years & Early Primary), said: “We are happy to work with any parent who is worried about their provision of early learning and childcare as a result of the potential closure of one private nursery and the amalgamation of two nurseries into one.
“We have already supported a number of parents to help find alternative places and further spaces are still available in local authority nurseries in the Cupar area.”
And Ms Lindsay advised: “Parents should contact their preferred nursery in the first instance or the Early Years team on 01592 583146 or email EarlyYears.Manager@fife.gov.uk.”