BROCKENHURST’S popular pre-school must raise £60,000 to stay afloat after it emerged it is leaving its current home amid a wrangle over rent.
Having been in existence for more than 50 years, the pre-school is giving up its base at Brockenhurst village hall in Highwood Road.
The hall is run by Brockenhurst Village Trust (BVT) which revealed the departure was because it had increased the rent. However, it stressed it was giving the pre-school time to find an alternative home.
The situation emerged at a pre-lockdown meeting of Brockenhurst Parish Council, when Cllr Michael Harris said the pre-school wanted to install a £60,000 new building at the village primary school. He warned the pre-school will fold if it fails to raise the money.
The call for cash is being led by John Littlewood, headteacher of Brockenhurst Primary School, who said there were fundraising activities planned and a donations webpage set up.
He said: “With such a sense of community spirit and belonging, I urge you to join the fight to keep Brockenhurst Pre-school alive.
“The future of the village is in the quality education and community support of our young people.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support our local families and children in accessing regular, all-day, outstanding childcare.”
The background to the situation was detailed in a statement released to the A&T by the Brockenhurst Village Trust.
It claimed the pre-school, which is one of the founding members of the trust, hit financial trouble in 2013. The trust and pre-school agreed measures including reduced rent, under an agreement that finished in 2018 but was later extended to September 2019.
When that date passed, the school was still not in a position to pay the new charges, and it “notified the trust of their intention to move to the grounds of the primary school”.
The trust stated: “After further discussions the BVT agreed to hold charges at the reduced rate until the end of July 2020 when the pre-school planned to move.
“There is now a significant gap between what the pre-school pays, and other users. Meanwhile for seven years all costs – maintenance, heat, light – have risen.
“In effect, the trust and other users are subsidising the pre-school, and while sympathetic, many other groups help specific parts of the community and are not subsidised, and the hall must be run on a fair basis which covers its running costs, or else it will fail.”
It added: “We hope that continuing dialogue will help us to come to a better understanding of each other’s position so that a resolution might be achieved.”
Donations can be made at visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/charity/brockenhurst-pre-school.