Hopscotch Childcare, which is registered to provide places for 50 children and is graded outstanding, is closing despite having 15 years left on its lease.
Liverpool Council has bought the whole complex to allow the new Merseyside Police headquarters to move from Canning Place in Liverpool city centre to the site, based just outside the centre.
The nursery is located in a converted school building, which is also home to other services including health visitors, and is set on Bishop Goss complex alongside other businesses such as North Liverpool Regeneration Company.
Managing director Sue Adamson, who opened Hopscotch Childcare in September 2004, said, ‘We initially looked to relocate but the city has grown so much it was all too expensive to even consider buying. We can’t just get a new office or move to a shop round the corner like other businesses.
The nursery's city garden
‘I had to look at it from every point of view and realistically this area is the only one that is suitable for the new police headquarters. I knew fighting it would only prolong everything, cost more and upset people. I’m just one business in the complex and the others can relocate. Even if I owned the building, it wouldn’t make a difference. If the council has plans then that will overtake anything else. The council actually communicated with us very fairly, but it will be a massive loss for the community.’
Ms Adamson’s priority was to ensure that the closure affected the children as little as possible, so she asked the council for a stay of execution until the end of a term.
‘My priority was to make the council understand that we are not just a normal business,’ she said. ‘This affects people’s lives. We didn’t want to finish in the middle of a term and make children have to change nursery just before they have to transition to school. The council did listen to us, and we won’t close until September now.’
Ms Adamson has advised parents on what to look for in new nurseries and gave out her personal number to allow them to contact her whenever necessary.
‘We haven’t held any families to a contract for the last month, because if they found somewhere they wanted to move to and the time was right for them, we wanted them to feel they could go,’ she added.
Ms Adamson said she kept her parents and staff informed throughout the process, and as a result all 22 of her staff members have remained at the nursery since they first heard about the plans. Staff were also given opportunities to embark on further training to help them find future employment, and now every member of staff has a job lined up to move on to in September.
Managing director Sue Adamson (back row, far left) with the staff team at Hopscotch Childcare
Ms Adamson, who has worked in childcare for 31 years, said she would take some time to reassess after the nursery closes on 15 September, but intends to stay in the early years sector.
‘I’ll always work in childcare but for now I want to finish the nursery on a high and party our last month out. The future will come afterwards. This would have taken me into retirement but it wasn’t to be. I’m very, very sad but I feel I’ve closed the business down in the most moral and ethical way possible. It’s a sad end but it’s been a good journey.’
A Liverpool City Council spokesperson said, ‘In 2016 Merseyside Police announced its plans to move their headquarters from Canning Place, to a new complex to the north of the city.
'Liverpool City are in the process of purchasing the freehold of the building, part of which is leased by the nursery. Liverpool City Council is in discussions with a representative from the nursery regarding an appropriate settlement.
'All staff have secured new employment and most children have been allocated places at local nurseries. Parents of any child currently without a nursery place are advised to call the family information service on 0800 085 2022.’