Turtles Nursery in Hilsea is thrown a lifeline as landlords agree to tenancy agreement

A NURSERY facing closure has been given a lifeline after its landlords offered a new tenancy agreement.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 1:36 pm
At the front, Sally Robinson, owner of Turtles Day Nursery, with parents and their children. From left, Cara Wright with her daughter Darla Dabson, 16 months, Danielle Jones with daughter Cerys, 2, Joanne Stephens with her daughter Katherine, two, and gran to Katherine, Anne Stephens, Louise Revell with her daughter Freya, two, and great granny to Freya, Florence Daniels. Parents had been upset by the proposed nursery closure but have now been given hope after a late reprieve. Picture: Sarah Standing

Turtles Nursery owner Sally Robinson was set to close her Portsmouth business in December after landlord Portsmouth Rugby Club informed her the building would be revamped.

Unable find a suitable location since she was told in 2017, Sally started the procedure of winding up the nursery and had informed parents of the closure and told staff they would be made redundant.

The situation had left many parents angry and upset.

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From left, Taylor Stephens, three, Cooper Loader, four, Olivia Friend, three, and Iris Bradrick, three, are all settled at the nursery, which is rated outstanding. Picture: Sarah Standing (151019-9204)

Cara Wright’s 16-month-old daughter Darla attends Turtles. The 27-year-old said: ‘I was heartbroken when I got the letter. It was ridiculous that an outstanding nursery was closing.’

Mum Danielle Jones, 34, added: ‘I was absolutely gutted –  I actually cried when I got the letter. This nursery is a lifeline for me.’

Families were concerned about the unsettling effect the closure could have on the children.

Local GP, Joanne Stephens, 30, whose daughter Katherine, two, is registered at the nursery, said: ‘It would be very unsettling for the children who are comfortable here.

‘Many other nurseries are fully booked.’

Sally was summoned to a meeting with the Rugby Club in 2017 where she was informed of the decision not to renew her lease.

Club chairman Edmund Neville said the original decision had been taken due to ‘concerns over the life-expectancy of the building’ and having ‘obtained planning permission for stadium developments’.

The decision left Sally, 45, ‘devastated’ and facing the prospect of not only losing her business but her life-time vocation.

She said: ‘There were times I’ve sat in my office and cried – I couldn’t believe I was having to say goodbye to everything.

‘Telling parents the news and making staff redundant broke my heart. If we’d been failing or couldn’t afford to run then I could accept it, but this wasn’t the case – we have been judged as outstanding by Ofsted.’

However, after the Rugby Club became aware that the nursery was going to close, rather than relocate, the club invited Sally to a meeting on Tuesday where they agreed to extend the lease.

Chairman Mr Neville said: ‘We had no intention of closing the nursery.

‘After we informed Sally about our original decision there was a two-year period to relocate.

‘We have recently held a meeting with Sally and we’ve agreed to negotiate a new lease for the current premises.

‘There’s certainly a will on our part to accommodate Sally’s nursery.’

Sally is ‘over the moon’ at the decision.

‘During the meeting they said they would now negotiate a new lease. I spoke to staff this morning and they were all overwhelmed,’ she said.

Sally  said the nursery can now continue to serve the local community. Terms and length of the new lease are under discussion.

‘Even if remaining in our current premises for the long term is not possible, at least this will give me more time to find alternative premises,’ she said.