A charity that provides “critical” child care in a north-east village fears new council rent charges will “break” them.
Kemnay breakfast and after school club is based at the village’s primary school on Grove Road and looks after 24 youngsters both before and following classes.
As well as offering childcare during term time they also take children during the holidays – but usually do not have to pay for using the primary school.
However, Aberdeenshire Council has told the charitable social enterprise that they will charge them, which could amount to £1,000 a month.
The charges, which will be per hour per room, for the club will be introduced once schools return next month.
Second organisation to highlight concerns over rent charges
They launched an online petition to highlight the situation and it attracted more than 200 signatures.
Kemnay breakfast and after school club’s committee is made up of parents whose children attend regularly.
Valia Spencer, the Kemnay childcare club secretary, said the new charges brought in by bosses at Aberdeenshire Council were “unannounced”. She said they face a “substantial cost” as a result.
She said: “The council allows us to use part of the school and clubs like us usually never have to pay anything.
“Then unannounced, with no forewarning, they said they were charging us. This would be a substantial cost for us.
“There is going to be a charge per room per hour and we us three rooms. It could be as much as £1,000 a month.
“It will put us out of business. We are already struggling because we have low numbers due to people working from home and not needing us.
“This is going to break us. We provide critical wrap around care and there are not enough people in the village to provide what we do.
Charity being charged for the first time ever
“It feels like this hasn’t been thought through because we can’t afford these costs.”
Kemnay childcare club manager Carol Beattie has worked with the charity for a decade and a half.
She said: “We were 80% full prior to Covid but with people working from home or being furloughed our numbers have dwindled.
“We are trying to help people working with the NHS and others who cannot work from home.
“The council are saying, on one hand, to apply for grants but then they are charging us.
“I’ve worked here for 15 years and we’ve never had to pay rent to use the premises.”
Council: ‘We must be consistent.’
A council spokesman 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 to the users of Kemnay Primary School.”