Crouch End playgroup to close ‘with great sadness’ following rent hike

Parents and children campaign to save 101 playgroup. Photo: Nigel Sutton

Parents and children campaign to save 101 playgroup. Photo: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The parents management committee announced Playgroup 101 was no longer sustainable and would close after 30 years

101 Playgroup on Tottenham Lane, which supports learning through play for two to four-year-olds, will close amid concerns the “squeezed middle” will have nowhere to send their toddlers.

The management said the council’s rent hike of more than 500 per cent was not sustainable.

Haringey subsidised 101 Playgroup’s rent for five years, with the group liable for only £3,000 per year of the annual rent of £14,000, but the council now faces a 40 per cent reduction in government spending.

They told the playgroup they needed to pay the full market rent of £16,500 from July 2017, with a transitional period of one year where they could pay £7,000.

The management committee wrote to parents: “It is with huge sadness that we need to let you know that 101 Playgroup will close for good at the end of this term.”

Tara Fraser, whose three children went to the group, said: “The children adored the staff.

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“No-nonsense, ever-loving Mary and her wonderful team Debby and Suzanna were pillars of the community.

“When I was undergoing chemo for breast cancer the support from the staff and other parents was absolutely amazing.”

Beth Pearson, 41, whose three-year-old daughter, Rowan, and five-year-old son Angus went to the playgroup, said: “Generations of Haringey children just won’t have that opportunity.”

“It’s such a shame that it’s going.”

She believes playgroups, such as Stonecroft on Priory Road and Stationers Playgroup on Mayfield Road, will be over-subscribed.

And she argues parents in the “squeezed middle”, who cannot afford private nurseries, but who are not entitled to 30 hours’ free childcare, will be left without support.

Playgroup 101 charges £18 for a three-hour session or £42 for a day.

Harmony Ridgley said: “Our son has been going to 101 Playgroup since January and we’ve been so pleased with how the friendly staff and children have helped him to improve his social skills and come out of his shell.

“The 101 ethos and parent involvement in fundraising meant that it was affordable for anyone, not just affluent families.”

A Haringey spokeswoman said: “In anticipation of the increase to the rent, we have been in contact with the 101 Playgroup management group.

“We understood the challenges they were facing, and in light of this offered business support and advice to help with the move from subsidised rent to full rent, including a £9,000 reduction in the new rent level for 2016/17.

“We were also able to offer a break clause after the first year so that the group could reassess their position after a year. Unfortunately, it was not possible to reach an agreement and we regret 101 Playgroup’s decision to close.”