Published: Tuesday, 29th January 2019

Councillors on Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet are being asked to approve the closure of a crèche at Ripon leisure centre.

A report will be considered at their meeting next week (6 February) which says the Harry's Place crèche continues to lose money, despite a recent push to promote it.

Between April and December last year, there were an average of just two children in each two-hour crèche session, which required a subsidy of £114 per child.

In the summer of 2018, the council consulted leisure centre users to find out why the facility was no longer popular and if anything was preventing them from using it.

Nearly 100 people responded. Some said the crèche sessions didn't match with the times of classes or fitness activities they wanted to join.

Others reported that cost was an issue.  The need for a parent or carer having to stay on site at the leisure centre while a child was in the crèche was also said to be a barrier.

In response, the council ran an awareness raising campaign using social media and its digital channels and the ‘stay-on-site’ restriction was scrapped.

There has been a slight increase in the number of children using the crèche since the consultation, even with a price rise, but it is not enough to make it financially viable.

In the long-term, Harry's Place would require a subsidy of £20,000 every year.

If members of the cabinet approve the closure proposal, three members of staff will be affected by the decision. The council began formal consultation with them this month.

It is proposed the crèche will close at the end of March.

Councillor Stanley Lumley, cabinet member responsible for the crèche, said:

“We don't take these decisions lightly and it is with a heavy heart that the recommendation has been made to close Harry's Place.

“Despite our best efforts since the summer, and a push to promote the crèche, the number of children using hasn’t increased enough to make it viable.

“We cannot afford to subsidise loss-making facilities like these at the expense of the other services we have to provide.

“We are supporting the members of staff who are at risk because of the recommendation to close.”

ENDS

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