‘Vital’ Crouch End playgroup could close after 500 per cent rent hike

The 101 Playgroup could be forced to close its doors after 30 years. Photo: Nigel Sutton

The 101 Playgroup could be forced to close its doors after 30 years. Photo: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Archant

The affordable centre, providing childcare for two to four-year-olds, has enjoyed subsidised rent for the last six years – but Haringey Council has threatened to withdraw the subsidy.

The 101 Playgroup, in Tottenham Lane, paid £3,000 annually for the last six years, but this could now go up to £14,000 a year.

Mother-of-two Beth Pearson, whose three-year-old daughter Rowan goes to the group, launched an online petition, which has more than 660 signatures, begging Haringey to set a new affordable rent.

She wrote: “Over the last 30-odd years, 101 has helped so many children, in an area where playgroups (as opposed to private nurseries) are rare. The fees are affordable and the atmosphere calm and caring.”

Mrs Pearson, 41, who works in a photography business, said the playgroup is a “brilliant” and flexible resource, with sessions costing as little as £18, or £42 for a full day.

She said: “For parents who aren’t working, or who are on benefits, and who don’t need full time child care, it gives an opportunity for their children to socialise and learn new skills.

“It’s brilliant and it would be a great shame [for it to close] for future generations.

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“Past parents are always evangelical about 101 and the good it has done their children.”

Playgroup supervisor Mary Mimnagh is a well-loved figure, and celebrated 25 years at the centre last year.

According to the Friends of 101-backed petition, Haringey Council could make the playgroup cover the costs for building maintenance, making it “impossible for us to remain viable as a playgroup.”

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said she would put parents’ concerns to on the agenda for her next meeting with the leader and chief executive of Haringey Council.

Parents and their children – proudly wearing their 101 T-shirts – will be gathering at the Holy Innocents Church on June 4 ahead of the Hornsey councillors surgery to highlight the playgroup’s plight.

They fear the rent will be hiked when it is renewed later in June.

A spokeswoman for Haringey Council said: “Since 2010, Haringey has faced a 40% reduction in government funding which has placed huge pressure on our finances.

“In light of the difficult financial picture, in 2011 Haringey agreed to subsidise the rents of the 101 Playgroup for five years.

“Since then, the rent has not increased and the Playgroup has been liable for £3,000 per year of the total annual rent of £14,000.

“We continue to work with the 101 Playgroup to try to find a sustainable solution for the future.”