Concerns have been raised about a major shortage of childcare in Buckie with parents being forced to take places outside the town.
Moray Council is running an expansion project to deliver a Scottish Government commitment to deliver 1,140 of funded annual hours for all three and four year olds and some two year olds by August.
However, now it has emerged there is a major shortage in the Buckie area with some parents having to be offered places elsewhere or being told to wait.
Childcare shortage comes despite places doubling three years ago
The development comes despite the new Lady Cathcart Nursery opening in 2018 following a £600,000 refurbishment, which doubled the number of spots in the town.
Yesterday Moray Council confirmed it was planning to install temporary accommodation early next year to cope with the demand while a new-build was likely due to housing developments.
Buckie councillor Tim Eagle revealed he had heard from “tearful” parents who do not have access to a car being told to take their child elsewhere for childcare.
Buckie councillor Sonya Warren added: “There has been a lot of concern from parents not getting their first or second choice and instead getting offers in Fochabers or Cullen – or not getting a place until after the summer.
“We had figures not that long ago saying Lady Cathcart would meet the need. We need to be very careful calculating the number of places we need for nurseries and primary schools.”
Nurseries in Buckie at capacity
A report presented to Moray Council explains nurseries at Millbank and St Peter’s in Buckie and in nearby Portgordon are full.
Meanwhile, the capacity at Lady Cathcart has been reduced from 50 to 42 due to coronavirus restrictions.
Senior project manager Robin Paterson explained the temporary accommodation would help to reduce pressures in the short-term.
He said: “The temporary unit will be bespoke. It will be fitted out for childcare, it isn’t simply an empty Portakabin.
“It will be fit for purpose and will be high quality.”
Concerns about new Aberlour nursery
Meanwhile, council officers have also suggested using temporary accommodation in Aberlour until a new-build project is complete.
The former library at Speyside High School has been identified as a short-term solution for children in the village and nearby Craigellachie.
However, Speyside Glenlivet councillor Derek Ross has concerns about the suitability of the building.
He said: “The weather gets pretty bad in that area in winter and walking quite a distance from a car park with two or three-year-olds in those conditions is difficult.
“Local people have had a look at it and they have huge concerns about it.”