Belfast Telegraph

Fears for 40 workers as campus creches shut

By Clare Weir

Up to 40 jobs could be lost after the sudden closure of three kindergartens in Co Tyrone due to financial difficulties.

Ulster Unionist Assembly member for Fermanagh -amp; South Tyrone Tom Elliott said he was "shocked and dismayed" by the sudden closure of Treehouse facilities at South West College, Dungannon, Omagh College and Arvalee campuses on Monday.

A spokesman for Interserve, an estate management company which oversees the sub-contracting of creche services at the college, said that the closure of the Montessori playgroups was "of great concern".

"We can confirm we have been informed that Treehouse Kindergarten Limited which provides the creche service in South West College at Dungannon and Omagh, has closed down with immediate effect following difficulties in trading," he said

"This is obviously of great concern to us as well as to the families who use the facilities, and we are doing everything we can to find replacements for the previous arrangements. We shall be contacting parents as soon as we are able to offer a new service and meanwhile would ask them to bear with us through what we recognise is a difficult time for all."

Malachy McAleer, director of South West College, said that he was trying to find an urgent solution to the closure.

"We are concerned and disappointed by this serious development," he said.

"Many of our students and staff need creche services to be able to continue balancing academic, work and life commitments and we are acutely aware of the impact this situation will have on them."

Mr Elliott said some of the staff have not been paid and are now out of work with immediate effect.

"This has resulted in many parents having nowhere to leave their young children while they go to work or study," he said.

"I have been in contact with the Southern Education Board, the South West College and the Southern -amp; Western Health Trusts to see if we can get a satisfactory conclusion that another local provider may take over the running of these creche facilities as soon as possible and offer assistance to staff and parents at this sudden closure which is having a huge impact on all concerned.

"The first priority is to get places for parents and the next important step is to get staff paid what they are owed."

No-one from Treehouse was available for comment yesterday.

3

The number of creches operated by Treehouse which shut suddenly

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