Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Staff call in PSNI as Tyrone creches close without warning

Angry workers at creches in Co Tyrone which shut without warning have contacted the PSNI after allegedly being left without wages.

Treehouse Limited, which provided kindergarten, pre-school and after-school facilities in Dungannon and Omagh, closed on Friday.

Up to 40 jobs are believed to be at risk. Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott (below) said he has been contacted by some staff who have not been paid and are now out of work.

It has also emerged that some workers have contacted police about their missing wages.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, a PSNI spokeswoman confirmed complaints had been received.

“Police have been contacted by a number of staff members from a playgroup,” she said. “We have advised that at this stage they should contact their solicitors.”

Three creches operated by Treehouse Ltd closed last week, including facilities at the Dungannon and Omagh campuses of South West College.

A creche at Arvalee, near Omagh, also shut without warning.

The decision to close the facilities is understood to follow difficulties in trading.

One parent of a seven-year-old child who attended the Arvalee facility said its closure had caused a “trail of devastation”, adding: “This has come as a total shock to parents who utilise the service.

“I, like a lot of other parents with children at the facility, work full-time and we just don't know what we are going to do.

“The other creches around the town are filled to capacity and the waiting lists are full, so trying to get our children into other facilities is going to be very difficult.”

Mr Elliott, who is an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, has contacted the Southern Education and Library Board, the South West College and the Southern and Western health trusts to see if another provider can take |over the running of the creche facilities.

“This is a viable business with highly skilled staff and it is to be hoped that another provider can be found quickly,” he added.

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

No-one from Treehouse was available for comment yesterday.

Background

Treehouse Limited provided creche facilities to several hundred children in Dungannon and Omagh, but shut without warning last Friday. It is understood to be due to “difficulties in trading”. Up to 40 jobs are at risk across the three facilities.

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