The owner of a building which houses a nursery in Kirkintilloch has given the business a one-week eviction notice, leaving staff without jobs and 78 families without childcare.
The sale of Tender Loving Childcare (TLC) to building owner Dr George Kantopoulos is now being disputed in court after a disagreement over the terms.
The nursery owners have known about the end of the lease for months but staff and parents were only made aware on May 17.
A decree to evict TLC was granted by Glasgow Sheriff Court in January 2023, with the facility set to shut down on May 23.
Dr Kantopoulos is now applying to register with the Care Inspectorate to open his own nursery.
TLC owners say the building was sold on the condition that he would purchase the nursery and allow it to continue operations, however this claim has been disputed by the dentist.
Dr Kantopoulos said he would be “happy to employ any staff impacted” on the same terms the were employed by TLC.
The childcare facility has operated in the building since 2007, and currently cares for 78 children – 12 of whom are between six months and two years old – with most places funded by East Dunbartonshire Council.
“We understand that Dr Kantopoulos is suggesting to parents that they can send their children to the nursery once we have left,” owners said.
“Dr Kantopoulos does not appear to understand that the children in our care are funded by [the council]. The nursery has a contract with [the council]. Dr Kantopoulos is aware of this contract.
“We are not aware that Dr Kantopoulos has the necessary registration permissions from the [Care Inspectorate] to run a nursery far less the staff required to care for the children and run the nursery.”
They added that by evicting the nursery, the dentist will inherit “an empty building”, with all 15 members of staff made redundant.
East Dunbartonshire Council has confirmed that the nursery will no longer operate from May 23, with court proceedings imminent.
Nicola, a lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland, is meant to go back to work soon after seven months of maternity leave.
“Without nursery support, it means that the hundreds of first year and honours students I am meant to be teaching will be impacted as there is no cover for my post and our teaching team is already stretched,” she told STV News.
“My two-year-old who currently attends TLC will be devastated as he has just settled and formed bonds with the amazing teaching team.
“My heart breaks for the staff who will be jobless as of next week in the midst of a cost of living crisis.”
Dr Kantopoulos said he was “shocked and deeply concerned” to find out the current operators of the nursery had apparently not informed staff and parents of end of their occupancy of the building.
“This is a matter the current owners have known about for 18 months, and they have had more than adequate time to ensure that there is no disruption to children, parents and staff,” he said.
“I am prepared to do whatever I can to find a solution which minimises disruption children and parents and which protects jobs.”
The dentist said he had incorporated a company to take on the nursery business and he was hopeful the registration process would be completed in the coming weeks.
He said he wanted to look at interim solutions to allow the current nursery to operate until his new business can take over.
“But that will obviously require buy in from the council and relevant stakeholders,” he said.
“I hope that a solution can be found in the interests of the children and the livelihoods of staff as soon as possible.”
Ann Davie, depute chief executive, East Dunbartonshire Council said, “We are providing parents with support and advice on alternative provision that may be available in the area.
“For those parents/carers who access their child’s funded hours at TLC Nursery, the Council’s Early Years Team will support the transition of the funding to an alternative local authority early years centre or funded provider.
“Following communication by the owners of TLC, we have sent out further information to parents to inform them of how and where they can access support regarding access to early learning and childcare places.”
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