A PRESTEIGNE playgroup says it could soon be bankrupt after shelling out £2,500 to employ extra staff, while waiting for a promised lease agreement to make use of extended facilities at the town's primary school.

Presteigne Little People's Playgroup, which employs nine local women, says it has been waiting since last summer for the lease agreement, after Powys County Council (PCC) spent nearly £100,000 on improvements at Presteigne Primary School to enable the playgroup to have the space needed to provide pre-school education and childcare for the expanding community.

“Children are not getting their 'free' three plus education places and parents seeking child care cannot get back to work,” said a playgroup spokesperson.

But PCC said on Wednesday, the work on the project was delayed while an agreement on the location of the playgroup, within the school, was reached and the work required was agreed between the two parties.

“Work started in November and was due for completion this month (March). That was the agreed programme. The formal lease has been agreed with the school and was with the playgroup last week. It is hoped the issue will be resolved as soon as possible,” said the council.

But Presteigne Little People’s Playgroup, which is a not for profit charity, said it is already £2,500 poorer because of having employed more staff ready for the new room, which it said was promised sooner, but is still not available.

“Staff have to be paid without actual work to do and waiting lists get ever longer,” said a playgroup spokesperson.

Trustees say sleepless nights have been spent trying to balance its books through fundraising and grant applications, while provision has had to operate at a loss and working parents have struggled to find child care.

“”Without a speedy resolution to the use of the new room we will soon be bankrupt and unable to continue,” said the trustees.

“We have been repeatedly promised definite completion dates going back to being ready for us to open in September 2018. Then it was half term, then it was definitely we would have the keys before Christmas and then definitely by February 15 at the latest.

“We have parents who had expected their children to have places with us from the beginning of January. We have employed extra staff on that basis and are paying them with no work for them to do.

“We are crammed into a space for only 18 children and have 120 children on our register as we are open for breakfast club, education sessions, lunch club and after school club, as well as holding weekly sessions to support parents with babies.

“The whole primary school has significantly less than 200 pupils.

“In order to use the room, we have to have it inspected for registration by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), the national body which oversees our work. Without the registration we cannot have children in the new double room.

“We told CIW we expected to be open for children on March 4, based on the promises we were given in January.

“We had to cancel the inspection visits as we are not allowed into the new room even to put in furniture. Once we get another inspection date we will still have to wait a further week for any registration. It may not be possible to have them visit before April.

“Powys has not given us a stick of furniture. We have had to scrounge around for second hand stuff and fund raise for new items such as a fridge and cooker.

“Our local community have been overwhelmingly supportive of us in this. Several committee parents' homes are full to the brim with stored stuff, most of which we have had since last year.

“We received a second draft lease on March 6. I responded to this with 22 questions on March 8 and received an out of office reply. The officer in the legal department apparently only works two days each week and will not be back until March 12. Who knows when we may get a response,” the trustees told the County Times.