Race against time to find Playbarn new premises

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FRASERBURGH’S Playbarn Nursery is appealing to the community for help to find a suitable venue to relocate following the devastating news that its lease is to be terminated at the end of the year.

Playbarn managers, Julie Wiseman and Eleanor Smith, told the Herald this week that negotiations were ongoing into renewing the lease of the Saltoun Place premises however nothing had been finalised.

Playbarn baby unit 1

Playbarn baby unit 1

“We were offered a five-year lease last October and negotiations were on-going regarding the terms, then on December 22 we received and email informing us that our lease was to be terminated from December 31, 2011.

“We were devastated by the news as we pride ourselves in being able to offer the children entrusted to our care stability and continuity.

“The decision was taken not to inform parents and staff at the time and cause them any undue stress over the festive period. However we were left with no option but to inform everyone after the holidays that our lease was being terminated as we were approached by several parents who were anxious having heard various rumours, including that another organisation was taking over the building, that we were bankrupt and that we had chosen not to extend the lease. This announcement devastated everyone.”

After six months of searching for suitable premises without success, the pair are now appealing to local property and land owners to contact them in the hope that a suitable venue can be found.

Playbarn baby unit 2 visit Fraserburgh Police Station

Playbarn baby unit 2 visit Fraserburgh Police Station

They continued: “To -date we have looked at numerous residential properties and several commercial premises requiring varying degrees of renovations. We have also looked at temporary structures and tried to secure a plot of land with the view to building a new nursery, most recently we had the disappointment of a premises we thought we had secured fall through despite having the finances in place.

“We have contacted the council and attended meeting with regards to both land and properties within the area, looked at temporary accommodation as well as more permanent structures, contacted councillors, education authorities and building contractors.

“At this present time we await further information from the council, we are working with a local builder on a project, and continue to search daily for new properties as and when they become available.”

Meanwhile, parents have also voiced their concerns over the proposed closure.

HITACHI HDC-1491E

HITACHI HDC-1491E

Gillian Macfarlane said: “As the current situation has developed all of the parents have been extremely concerned not only for the future childcare provision for our children but also for the continuation of a wonderful service and extended family within the nursery.

“I can only hope that the staff have as much support as possible from the council and the local community to find suitable premises to move to in a timely fashion.”

Brenda Kinghorn added: “The uncertainty of the future of the business is a genuine concern, not only to Julie and her wonderful staff, but to all the working parents and grandparents who rely on them for the provision of suitable childcare.

“Surely there must be someone out there who has a site, or building, that could be put to good use.”

Playbarn Nursery has operated since May 2003, catering for a registered 93 children, the nursery has a further 70 children on its waiting list.

Julie and Eleanor added: “Our vision when opening was to create a environment where children felt at home, with caring, dedicated staff who not only met the needs of individual children but also parents and their families.

“Our children, parents and their extended families are very much at the heart of Playbarn, their help, support and dedication to us is at times overwhelming.

“Staff, children, parents and families recently took part in a sponsored toddle around Fraserburgh, we raised £1,400 for the Olivia Downie Foundation. We also managed to link Olivia’s family with the New Hope Trust which is distributing recycling bins throughout Fraserburgh to raise funds. We are currently discussing with parents what our next event will be.

“During the last six months our parents commitment and support has been invaluable and we would like to say a big thank you to everyone and especially to Brenda Kinghorn who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to offer us assistance with our plight.

“However time is now moving very quickly and we feel that we needed to reach out to the community, in the hope that someone can save the day. If you have anything, anywhere, no matter the condition of the premises or the location of the site, please get in touch with us here at the nursery.

“We need your help, the children need your help.”

If you think that you can assist Julie and Eleanor in their search for a suitable property contact them at Playbarn Nursery on (01346) 519439.