North-east nursery to close… Owners blame rise in business rates

Bridges Nurseries, owned by Graham Mogford

The owners of a north-east nursery have announced its closure, blaming the increase in business rates.

Bridges Nurseries, which operates in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, will shut its original childcare site in Westhill.

Holyrood Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a £44million relief package to soften the blow of rate increases for certain sectors across Scotland last month.

Hotels, pubs, cafes and more will not see bills rise more than 12.5% when the rates come into effect in April. However, nursery firms will not be afforded the same assistance.

In a letter to parents, Bridges manager and co-director Lois Duncan said: “You will be aware, from our recent letter and a great deal of press coverage, that the current review of business rates in Aberdeenshire has put all nursery schools under enormous pressure.

“Short-term financial sticking plasters have been proposed for some, but they do not currently apply to you, our parents.

“Apart from the immediate financial problems, which have already resulted in a fee increase, we have been reviewing the whole structure of our nursery operation and staffing in order to stay ahead of a constantly evolving situation, to secure our future and provide the best service we can, for you and the children in our care.

“Our first nursery in Westhill was established over 20 years ago in 1995 at 2 Lawsondale Avenue, and it is therefore with a very heavy heart that we have decided it must now close.

“As a direct result of ever increasing overheads, this facility is simply no longer viable.”

Children attending the Lawsondale nursery will be offered a space at the company’s Arnhall nursery, in Westhill. The Lawsondale site will close on June 30.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government has committed around £660million of business rates relief next year, including an additional £7.5million relief recently announced for Aberdeen, while councils are empowered to apply further reductions to address any local issues as they see fit.

“Any business that is concerned about its valuation should contact the assessor and discuss how they worked out the provisional value.

“Companies have until September to appeal, and we would encourage firms to do so.”

It is with a very heavy heart that we have decided the nursery must now close