End of an era for high-rise nursery class

Have your say

A NURSERY on the top floor of an eight-storey block of flats which was closed temporarily amid health and safety fears is set to be turned into housing or offices.

Council chiefs are recommending that Westfield Court Nursery is closed for good, with alternative uses for the space already being explored.

The council-run nursery was shut down at the end of 2010 after the authority’s own health and safety team warned that a fire within the building “could result in tragedy”.

Children were moved to Tynecastle and Calderglen nurseries and a public consultation was launched to decide on whether Westfield Court should be re-opened.

Following the consultation, education director Gillian Tee said the health and safety reasons were still compelling and she would be recommending to councillors next week that the nursery remains closed.

She said: “There is clear health and safety advice that the location of Westfield Court is not suitable as a nursery.

“Education Scotland have concluded that Westfield Court does not provide a safe environment for children and has limited and inappropriate outdoor learning space.

“There are enough spaces within the local area to accommodate the demand for nursery placements and the closure of Westfield Court would still give parents the choice of nursery school, nursery class or partner provision within a mile radius within the local community.”

When the council closed Westfield Court, bosses were accused of using the health and safety fears as a smoke screen to force through another nursery closure.

Sheena Johnstone’s four-year-old daughter Chenai attended Westfield Court but had to be moved to Tynecastle for the five months before she started primary school.

Ms Johnstone said: “It was a big upheaval for my daughter to move nurseries for just a few months before she started school.

“It was a good nursery and it’s sad that this has happened.

“It was inevitable that it was going to close for good when they first shut it down.

“I think if it hadn’t been closed in such a devious way then it could have stood a chance of re-opening.

“This is the end of an era.”

A new report reveals that re-opening the nursery would cost around £165,000 in fire safety measureS and a further £160,000 in maintenance costs over the next five years.

Education bosses said that annual savings from closing the nursery would amount to just over £212,000.

Closing the nursery would cost a one-off £20,000 payment plus annual security costs of £36,500 until a future use of the building was found.

Ms Tee added: “The council is giving due consideration to the future use of the nursery building and there is the possibility of converting it back into housing or office space.

“This would be explored further should the decision be made to close the nursery permanently.”