Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council is currently assessing demand regarding reinstating a crèche service, as used to be the case prior to the Covid pandemic at Banbridge Leisure Centre and Orchard Leisure Centre.
The matter was listed as an item on the agenda of a Leisure & Community Services Committee meeting held on January 15.
The crèche service provided at the above leisure centres was discontinued at the time of the pandemic due to lockdown, and it hasn’t been reinstated to date due to a lack of demand and staffing restrictions.
In the meantime, council officers have repurposed the spaces previously occupied by the crèche facilities as multi-purpose rooms, allowing for classes, birthday parties and meetings to be held in each.
In addition, the staff previously employed to deliver the crèche service have for some left the ABC Council, while others are on secondment or on a career break. Council officers have advised that to reinstate the service would mean having to recruit new staff to undertake the roles vacated by those who have left ABC Council.
A public consultation has now been carried out to gauge potential support for the reinstatement of the crèche facilities.
Since then, however, council officers have been made aware of a wider conversation around play schemes, crèche and childcare provision which is being led by the Community Development Department.
ABC officers are keen to ensure that Leisure & Community Services Committee members are fully informed of all of the issues relating to this very important aspect of ABC provision, and that any decision taken on the crèche facilities is in step with the overall corporate direction.
As part of the process, committee members will have the opportunity to shape the corporate approach, which will in turn provide direction on the future of the crèche facilities.
ABC officers hope to be in a position to update committee members on this issue in the next few months.