A children’s nursery in the Guild Hall has closed after confusion over who owns the lease.Advertisement
Young Steps nursery was forced to shut today (Monday) laying off six members of staff and leaving 35 children and their parents with no childcare.
Paul Manning, Operations Director, said: “We are all shocked.
“When Preston City Council changed the locks on Friday they advised us to got to City Hall to agree a new lease.
“A colleague waited three hours to be told that no lease was on offer to Young Steps as it belong to Simon Rigby.
“It was pointed out that in fact it belonged to his wife”
“ Preston City Council said they felt sorry for the parents and children but the decision was final.
“The council could not even tell us when we could have access to the property to get our equipment.
“We are unable to access children’s files so that we can notify parents of the closure.
“There are personal effects in there. It is a complete mess. We have been left with no choice but to permanently close”.
Read more: Preston Guild Hall rebirth through to slow implosion under Simon Rigby – a timeline of events
A Preston City Council spokesperson said: “The confusion of ownership of the Safe Hands / Young Steps nursery emanates from when it went into administration in December last year.
“Until today, Preston City Council has not received notification of who is running the nursery, despite multiple contacts made with the Rigby Group and appointed administrator.
“While in administration companies are exempt from business rates, but when ownership changes or it is reopened, the council must be immediately notified and rates re-applied.
“It is the duty of whoever owns this nursery to notify the council and pay the appropriate rates.
“We briefly met with a representative of the Rigby Group on Friday, on behalf of Safe Hands / Young Steps nursery, who did not dispute that the nursery is part of the Rigby Group.
“Unfortunately he left before the dialogue could continue, which could have included an escorted visit to the premises.
“They are more than welcome to get in touch to finish the conversation at their convenience.”
Young Steps is considering legal action.
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