A decision on whether to close a Melton pre-school has been put on hold while discussions continue to find a way to keep it running.
We reported last week that Mowbray Education Trust (MET) was proposing to close Oasis Pre-School at the end of the summer term in July because of funding issues and a shortage of children attending it.
Devastated parents raised a petition with hundreds of signatories opposing the move with staff due to be informed on the final decision tomorrow (Friday) following a consultation period.
In the last week councillors have held talks with senior trust members and County Hall education chiefs in a bid to find a solution to save the pre-school, which is based on the site of The Grove Primary School on Asfordby Road.
And this morning (Thursday) the trust released the following statement: “Following our statement of May 3, we have met with representatives of Melton Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council to explore potential alternatives to the proposed closure of Oasis Pre-school at the end of the summer term in July 2019.
“Whilst no solution has yet been found, we are keen to continue exploring all options.
“Therefore, to allow time for these discussions to continue, the trust will not make a final decision on the future of Oasis this month.
“We understand that many people are very concerned about the future of Oasis, but we are not able to provide a running commentary on these ongoing discussions. “It’s also important that Oasis staff are the first to be kept informed of any developments.
“We expect to be able provide a further public update in early June.”
Urgent discussions have been taking place about the pre-school in the klast few days and MP Sir Alan Duncan has given his support to the campaign to keep it going.
County councillor Alan Pearson and borough councillor Peter Faulkner met senior members of the trust and Oasis manager Victoria Conyers and a meeting has also taken place with County Hall education officials.
Councillor Pearson said he was committed to finding a solution to keep the pre-school operating because of its importance in supporting the children of families from the most deprived backgrounds.
He told the Melton Times: “The children who attend Oasis are from one of our priority neighbourhoods in Melton and we just can’t afford to lose a service like this.
“It plays an important role in early intervention with children who need support and we are trying everything we can to keep it going.
“This is a commercially driven decision because the trust is losing money but I’m hoping people will pull together to save it.
“One option is to run it from another venue if a suitable one can be found but we are looking at ways to stop it closing.”
Melton MP Sir Alan Duncan this week praised the work of staff at the pre-school and voiced concern over the threat to its future.
He told the Melton Times: “Oasis Family Centre is a very special place with incredibly dedicated staff.
“Conservative councillors, Councillor Alan Pearson in particular, have been working extremely hard behind the scenes for a number of weeks to try and pull everyone together to resolve the issues and save this very important service.”
Vanessa Jackson, a mum whose children have attended Oasis, contacted us to pay tribute to it, commenting: “It is a huge asset to the town and I sincerely hope that it will become evident that the move to close it is short-sighted and not in the interest of the town or the many satisfied parents who send their children to this amazing pre-school.”
Mowbray Education Trust, which also manages a number of schools in the Melton area, say it is ‘sad’ to be in a position where it is proposing to close Oasis at the end of the summer term on July 12.
But it said the decision was taken because of ‘significant operating losses’ last year and predicted further losses for the year 2019/2020.
The MET has asked parents and other interested parties not to contact Oasis directly while discussions take place about its future.
Interested parties are advised to email firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions about the situation there.