Warilla Child Care Centre handed lease extension

Cr Kellie Marsh

Cr Kellie Marsh

The Warilla Child Care Centre has been given a short-term reprieve with Shellharbour councillors unanimously accepting an offer to extend the centre’s peppercorn rent of $1 for a further 12 months.

In May, Housing NSW told the council it would be seeking market rental for the property on the corner of King and Harvey streets, Warilla, with a council valuation of $40,000 a year on the premises.

In June, Shellharbour City Council staff recommended the centre be closed at the end of 2014 if an alternative service provider could not be found to operate the centre because the additional rent would put the council’s annual subsidy for the centre up to $200,000.

On Tuesday night, with many parents of children who attend the centre in the public gallery, councillors unanimously resolved to support an option that council accept Land and Housing Corp’s 12-month ‘‘peppercorn’’ rent offer and continue the search for an alternative childcare provider. 

If one cannot be found, the centre will close in December 2015.

Cr Kellie Marsh added a clause that the council advocate on behalf of existing staff to allow them to transfer to a new operator.

‘‘This is not an ideal outcome but sometimes you have to compromise,’’ Cr Marsh said.

‘‘A sense of family and community is something money can’t buy.’’

Council staff said Shellharbour City’s childcare landscape had changed since the council opened the Warilla facility in 1976.

The council’s director of corporate policy Lee Furness said there were now 32 long day care childcare facilities in the city and there was sufficient capacity in the market to absorb the transfer of children should the Warilla centre close.

However one parent, Allana Cuzen, told the council many parents disagreed.

Ms Cuzen said that since the closure of the Warilla centre was first mooted in June, she had put the names of her two children down at 10 centres and as yet had received no confirmation of a place for 2015.

Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said she was confident an alternative provider for the Warilla centre would be found with the expressions of interest process to begin immediately.

‘‘Council staff have worked hard in negotiations to achieve the outcome,’’ Cr Saliba said.

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