First Step pre-school in Thornbury has two weeks to raise £125,000 to build its new home, but its efforts have been renewed with fresh political support.

The pre-school wanted to create a new building on the grounds of Crossways Infants School, but the money it had raised to fund the project ran out.

The setting had been given a £225,000 grant from the Department for Education, under the proviso they would be open by September.  First Step expected this to cover 75 per cent of the cost of the build, but they did not receive the money until March. This left a short turnaround for construction.

At this time they also learnt that, despite being a registered charity, they would not be tax exempt, meaning the project would cost them £350,000.

Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall heard about the situation and has given his support to the project, meeting with Cllrs Matthew Riddle and Toby Savage, the leader and deputy leader of South Gloucestershire Council, to see what assistance could be offered.

Mr Hall said: “With the introduction of the Governments 30 hours of free childcare for working parents on the horizon, I was concerned to hear of the pre-school’s situation.

“After discussing the issue with Matthew and Toby, I was delighted when they agreed to meet with the committee to understand the barriers to completing this important project for the community.”

Cllr Savage, who is also the council’s cabinet member for education, said: “It was great to be able to meet with the pre-school leaders to see and hear first-hand the fantastic work they are doing locally and how they want to expand to do even more in the town.

“They have encountered some bumps along the way and, as a council, we are looking urgently at what assistance we could potentially offer to smooth the way forward and complete this important scheme.”

A spokeswoman for the pre-school has said how grateful they are for the assistance from the councillors following their setbacks.

She said: “We very much look forward to strengthening our partnership with South Gloucestershire Council to complete our new building and open our doors to more families in the community.

“High quality pre-school is proven to have long-lasting effects on the learning journeys and wider outcomes of our young people, and we are delighted that our local representatives equally share our values in providing this solid foundation for our local children.”


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