A BASINGSTOKE pre-school is closing down because not enough children have registered.

The chair of a committee which runs Snapdragons Community Pre-School in Old Down Hall in Kempshott said the decision to close it has been taken with a "heavy heart".

Marilyn Freeman told the Gazette the nursery had been operating at a loss for the last two years, because not enough children had registered.

The committee made a decision earlier this year that it was no longer viable to keep it open, and informed parents in July that it would close at the October half-term.

The pre-school, which is graded as “good” by Ofsted, opened five years ago as a second site linked with Dandelions Community Pre-School, in Hatch Warren, which was over-subscribed.

However, Marilyn said they had struggled to attract children over the last couple of years to Snapdragons, despite the “outstanding” Ofsted rated Dandelions having a waiting list.

She said: “We are a charity and we can’t run at a loss and the number of children just wasn’t there so it was a straight-forward financial decision. We were running for two years at a loss. We informed parents in July and intended to keep it open until October to give parents as much notice as we could. We were upset about it. For two years we thought we will wait another half-term.”

A total of 14 children had to find alternative provision elsewhere, three of whom were due to start for the first time in September.

Marilyn said none of them returned to the pre-school after the summer.

She added: “We closed with a heavy heart. But I think it’s the area. Babies weren’t born two to three years ago in the community. We thought that Beggarwood children would come but they didn’t. For the last two years we have put leaflets to houses and attended all the open days but it hasn’t brought the children to us.”

The chair said parents were upset about the decision, adding: “We had really cross parents. They asked why we didn’t tell them two years ago. We are a committee of volunteers who give up their time and it was heart wrenching to close. But it just wasn’t viable. It was awful because it is the children’s start in life. A high percentage of the committee are parents and once a child is settled the last thing you want to do is move them. But we had to make that decision. We were always hoping that the children would come.”