Kiddi Caru to close Earls Court nursery


Kiddi Caru’s Earls Court nursery is to close at the end of next month as the lease on the building is not being renewed by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

The Kiddi Caru nursery is based in the Empress State building in Earl’s Court
The Kiddi Caru nursery is based in the Empress State building in Earl’s Court

The nursery, based at Empress State building in Earl’s Court, West London, and operated by Les Petits Chaperons Rouges (LPCR), will close on 20 March.

LPCR notified parents of the closure in mid-January, giving them just six weeks to find alternative childcare.

However, a letter from the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime confirms that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) which owns the building in which the nursery is based, told Kiddi Caru in June 2018 it would not be renewing the lease after June 2019.

The MPS subsequently granted Kiddi Caru three extensions to the lease as per the nursery group’s requests.

The letter sent to London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon on 4 February, confirms that the MPS decided not to renew the lease as they plan on turning the building into a Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Hub and that the ‘continued operation of the nursery is not possible due to the need to revise the facilities to provide security around the building’.

A spokesperson for LPCR said, ‘We announced the unfortunate closure of Kiddi Caru Day Nursery, Earls Court (Empress State) in mid-January to all our families.

‘This is due to the nursery being situated on land leased from the Metropolitan Police Authority, who bought the Empress State building in 2019. The area around Earls Court is undergoing a massive regeneration project and we received notice from the Metropolitan Police Service that our lease would not be renewed, which has brought about the inevitable but regretful decision to close the nursery.

‘We have gone to great lengths to look for alternative premises, but this has not proved successful. We have been supporting families looking for alternative childcare by contacting other local providers and discussing their current availability, and this is the same for staff looking for employment whether that be within the Kiddi Caru Group or outside.’

The 74-place nursery in Earls Court, rated good by Ofsted, is the second setting Kiddi Caru has closed within the last six months.

In October, LPCR, which owns Kiddi Caru, announced the closure of its setting in Redbourn due to recruitment difficulties.

Parents whose children attend the Earls Court setting have spoken out against LPCR as they claim they were not given enough notice to find alternative childcare.

One parent told Nursery World she has had to give up her job as she says all the nurseries locally have waiting lists and there are no available places until the summer.

Another parent is having to consider sending her two-year-old to be cared for by family in Yorkshire as she is unable to find another nursery that has available spaces and provides care before 9am and after 3pm.

She said, ‘The news of nursery closure has had a great impact on our lives. It has caused great stress and anxiety. Finding another nursery has proved very difficult. I can’t afford to give up work so may have no choice but to send my child to be cared for family, four hours away, as I have no family locally. This has put us in a very horrible situation.

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Kensington and Chelsea Councillor Linda Wade, who has been in touch with the parents affected, said, ‘The nursery had a good reputation and was one of the few in the area that was genuinely available to working parents.

‘Given that Kiddi Caru knew that the lease would be renewed years ago, but not telling parents until six weeks before, concerns me about the nursery group’s management style of business.

‘If LPCR wishes to expand in the UK, they are leaving a bad trail.'

She went on to say, ‘This situation has highlighted a greater problem, the acute shortage of purpose built space for nurseries. There needs to be greater investment in nurseries, particularly when more housing is being developed.’

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), said, ‘The Met Police are responsible for the lease for the Empress State building. They first notified the tenant in June 2018 that the lease would be coming to an end and have been working with them since then to minimise the impact on the nursery’s customers, agreeing a series of extensions up to March 2020.’

 

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