A formal statutory notice to close Susan Isaacs Nursery has been issued by Bolton Council.
The statutory notice will be published today (January 12) in the local press and on the premises in Vernon Street, and will allow four weeks for interested parties to make their views known.
Any responses received will be reported to the council’s Cabinet meeting on February 22, where a final decision will be made.
The governing body and the council agreed to consult with parents, staff and the community last Autumn about a possible closure, after it became apparent the nursery would struggle to continue due to budget pressures and falling numbers.
As a result of the consultation, a petition with 405 signatures against closure was submitted to the council, along with three expressions of interest in taking over the empty building should the nursery close: Bolton Children’s Opportunity Group (COG); Bolton Toy Library and Tic Tots Day Nursery.
If approved on February 22, the nursery will formally close its doors at the end of summer term on August 31 in order to allow children to continue their period of education there.
Officers will then explore opportunities to bring the building back into use with the intention of retaining the iconic Susan Isaacs name.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “After much deliberation and discussion with the governing body about the nursery’s funding issues and falling numbers, it became apparent that its long term financial future was unsustainable and therefore we were faced with no option but to explore the possibility of closure last Autumn.
“Despite a heartening response during consultation, the situation remains that the nursery is not sustainable and it is with great sadness that we are now in a position where we have issued a formal statutory notice of closure, with a final decision made next month.
“Susan Isaacs was a pioneer in early years’ education and the nursery has been a beacon of good practice, serving many children over the years. We will now explore the possibility of Bolton COG and Bolton Toy Library relocating to the building as both organisations provide services for early years and special educational needs.”
Employees at the nursery have been informed of the closure notice and will now enter into a consultation period with the council regarding their jobs.
Comments on the proposed closure should be made to the council before February 9.
Budgets for maintained schools and nursery schools in the borough are set within Government guidelines and in accordance with a local funding formula, based on the number of pupils, demographics and other pressures.
In a statement, the governing body added: "The Governing Board of Susan Isaacs Nursery, in September 2015, advised all Staff, Parents and the Unions that they were entering into a period of consultation regarding the closure of the Nursery in accordance with the requirements of the Department for Education.
"On 11th January 2016, Governors advised Staff that following an extended period of consultation they have examined the responses to that formal consultation. As a direct result of their grave concerns regarding the Nursery’s serious budget and funding arrangements and having considered the responses, the Governing Board have taken the significant decision to advise the Council that the Nursery is no longer financially viable.
"The Governors have throughout the process taken the advice and guidance of the Council and this decision has not been taken without due consideration of all facts and options presented to them.
The need for this action became clear following an extensive and thorough examination of the budgets in recent months, and assessment of future funding for the Nursery."