YMCA Gosport Nursery Closure

A statement on the closure of the YMCA Gosport nursery from Angela Berry, CEO of the Lighthouse Learning Trust.

We fully understand the anxiety and distress of all parents of children at the YMCA nursery in Gosport who will find themselves without any provision as a result of the YMCA’s decision to seek new providers for 11 of its early years settings.

As landlord the Lighthouse Learning Trust, of which St Vincent College is a part, was contacted by the YMCA in September 2022 and given notice that it intended to end its lease on the building at St Vincent College on December 30. The YMCA told the trust it was trying to sell its nursery business to another provider in order that it stay open.

The closure date was subsequently shifted to June 30 while it had discussions with another provider to take on the business in Gosport and at another of its sites in Hampshire. As landlord we became involved in the discussions relating to the Gosport site and at all stages we assured both the YMCA and the prospective alternative provider that we would do all we could to ensure as seamless a transfer as possible.

By March 2023 we had drawn up a new lease and heads of terms for this alternative provider but on March 10 we were told by the YMCA that it had withdrawn from the transfer of both the Gosport and the Hampshire sites.

The YMCA approached a private nursery with a view to it taking over the nursery at St Vincent for three months to allow parents the time to find other provision. However, despite the Lighthouse Learning Trust offering flexibility on the rent, it decided not to proceed. Consequently, the YMCA decided the Gosport nursery would close in June.

We remain ready and willing to talk to any nursery provider about taking on the provision at the St Vincent site because we understand its importance to the families who rely on it.

St Vincent College’s sole focus is on education and training for young people aged 16 to 18 and not nursery provision. It does not have the resources or experience to run its own nursery but the trust would be fully supportive of any provider who wanted to discuss taking it on at the St Vincent site.

At no stage have we asked for increased rent from current or potential providers and we do not wish to use the building for any other purpose. We have not asked the YMCA to reinstate the building to its pre-nursery condition, as we are entitled to under the terms of the lease, because we fervently wish to see it continue as a nursery for the good of the community of Gosport, to which we remain fully committed.

Although the trust has had no involvement in the running of the YMCA nursery, we are aware it has provided excellent care and we are very sad to see it leave. We will continue to support our own staff and learners affected by the YMCA’s decision in any way we can.

A statement from Phillipa Spicer, CEO of the YMCA Fairthorne Group

In September 2022, YMCA Fairthorne Group announced its intention to seek new providers for 11 of its early years’ settings due to the impact of the chronic Government underfunding of the free 15 and 30 hours childcare offer for families. As a charity, YMCA was subsidising the underfunding by up to £500,000 per year which was unsustainable. These 11 settings included the YMCA Gosport Nursery located on the St Vincent College site.

As landlord of the nursery building, the Lighthouse Learning Trust has remained committed throughout the process within its remit to ensure that a nursery is located on the college site, as the trust is aware of its importance and impact in the local area.