Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Town’s only crèche forced to close for financial reasons

THE only crèche in Henley will close at the end of this month.

THE only crèche in Henley will close at the end of this month.

Wise Owls Crèche, based by the LA Fitness gym in Newtown Road, will close its doors permanently on March 28. The crèche currently caters for children aged from three months to five years old and is available to parents regardless of whether they have a gym contract.

Manager Christine Hopecroft, who set up the crèche for the then Workshop health club 15 years ago, says she is disappointed that the business will close but it is not financially viable.

She said: “The crèche has kind of been my baby and I’ve been here for so many years that it will be very disappointing to lose it. I’ve looked after four children from the same family and some of them are now doing their GCSEs so it’s a real shame.”

The crèche was previously part of the Odyssey health club before it was taken over by LA Fitness about five years ago. The gym decided to abolish its on-site crèches two years ago and both Ms Hopecroft and deputy manager Gemma Mason were made redundant. The crèche was able to continue after Tanya Galitzine who runs after school clubs, holiday clubs and breakfast clubs in Maidenhead, agreed to take over the business and pay rent to LA Fitness.

Ms Hopecroft, from Wargrave, said: “The crèche has never made a profit in the last two years but Tanya has been able to offset her losses with her other clubs because she knew how important it was to people and she didn’t want to let them down. It just doesn’t balance out financially.”

About eight children attend the crèche regularly although it can cater for up to 12.

Ms Hopecroft said: “We are really full between 9am and 11am but then for the last two hours until 1pm it turns a lot quieter. We are very sad but people don’t seem to need the childcare.”

Ms Hopecroft and Ms Mason will join Peapods nursery school in Rotherfield Peppard next month.

“Hopefully some of the children will be able to move there if they would like to,” Ms Hopecroft said. “We have really enjoyed the children that we have looked after.”

A spokesman for LA Fitness said: “The crèche has occupied a separate building with its own outside space next to our Henley club since January 2011. The crèche didn’t pay any rent for the first four months and then had three months at a heavily discounted rate. But even at full price the rent was not unreasonable equating to less per hour than the fee for one child to attend.

“LA Fitness didn’t give the crèche notice to quit, but assumes that business pressures forced it to give notice. We are now looking for another crèche operator to take over the space so we hope a similar service will resume soon.”

Ms Hopecroft, from Wargrave, said: “The crèche has never made a profit in the last two years but Tanya has been able to offset her losses with her other clubs because she knew how important it was to people and she didn’t want to let them down. It just doesn’t balance out financially.”

About eight children attend the crèche regularly although it can cater for up to 12.

Ms Hopecroft said: “We are really full between 9am and 11am but then for the last two hours until 1pm it turns a lot quieter. We are very sad but people don’t seem to need the childcare.”

Ms Hopecroft and Ms Mason will join Peapods nursery school in Rotherfield Peppard next month.

“Hopefully some of the children will be able to move there if they would like to,” Ms Hopecroft said. “We have really enjoyed the children that we have looked after.”

A spokesman for LA Fitness said: “The crèche has occupied a separate building with its own outside space next to our Henley club since January 2011. The crèche didn’t pay any rent for the first four months and then had three months at a heavily discounted rate. But even at full price the rent was not unreasonable equating to less per hour than the fee for one child to attend.

“LA Fitness didn’t give the crèche notice to quit, but assumes that business pressures forced it to give notice. We are now looking for another crèche operator to take over the space so we hope a similar service will resume soon.”



ends

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