Another childcare charity – Laurencekirk Out of School Club – has slammed Aberdeenshire Council for charging them to use a local authority building.
Laurencekirk Out of School Club operates from Laurencekirk School. In its near-20-year history it has never had to pay for the facilities.
But like other childcare groups across Aberdeenshire, it is being hit with new charges next month.
It follows similar stories in Kemnay with playgroup Kiddiwinks facing a 600% rent increase for using the village pavilion.
We also revealed how Kemnay out of school club faces a similar situation after being hit with new charges.
Now Laurencekirk Out of School Club, which also operates during the school holidays, has joined in protests against the move.
It predicts it could cost up to £30,000 a year and is begging the council to “reconsider”.
Fears that town’s families could lose out on childcare
Club manager Lisa Moggach said the people that are going to miss out are the families living in the town.
She said: “We estimate it could be between £28,000 to £30,000 a year and that is a significant amount of money. It is very frustrating.
“I’ve asked them to reconsider as we are an essential service and we have over 100 children coming to us which is a quarter of the 400 pupils at the school.
“It is very frustrating because there’s been no discussion. They need to look at each individual group for this.
“We are operating from a building that was supposedly purpose-built for the community.
“We are a well-established service that was moved from an old community centre to the school.
“I do worry though because Laurencekirk is getting bigger and they are building more houses and we need clubs like ours.
“We are in a no-win position and the people who are going to lose are the families.”
Laurencekirk Out of School Club started in 2002 and is run by a committee of parents.
It offers breakfast and out of school clubs during term time as well as a holiday club. It has six staff.
Council ‘risk losing services’ as a result of charges
Club chairwoman Claire Lindsay fears that the “huge strain” of rent charges combined with Covid-19 mitigations could prove to be the end for similar charities.
She said: “This situation could put more clubs out of business. Covid has put a huge strain on clubs with occupancy lower, the requirement for bubbles, extra cleaning and safety requirements.
“These added costs will need to be passed to parents which could stop families from being able to afford to use the service.
“I think it is extremely short-sighted of Aberdeenshire Council and they are at risk of losing these vital services for good.”
Council respond to club’s outcry
A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Aberdeenshire Council has to be consistent across all our facilities and we have applied the standard rental pricing policy which is in use across all council services.
“Officers are committed to engaging with user groups to explore sustainability grants and other support which is available.”
Is your club facing the same rent hike? Get in touch at email@example.com