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An Cotan Childcare Centre is set to close – because of continuing losses, says UHI Outer Hebrides, formerly Lews Castle College.

UHI Outer Hebrides is working with community partners to explore alternative childcare options for local parents after making what it describes as "the difficult decision" to begin consultation on the proposed closure of its An Cotan Childcare Centre, Stornoway.

Hannah Ritchie-Muir, Principal and Chief Executive of UHI Outer Hebrides, said: “It is with deep regret we have made the difficult decision to begin consultation on the proposed closure of our An Cotan Childcare Centre, which is located in the grounds of our Stornoway campus. We wish to sincerely apologise for the difficulties this will cause local parents.

"Significant staffing challenges have forced us to reduce the service in recent months and despite repeated attempts to fill gaps, we can no longer guarantee a reliable service to local parents. We have also been subsidising our childcare centre for several years and it is simply no longer sustainable for us.

"Parents have been informed and a consultation has started with staff, who we are working with to support.

"If following consultation, the proposal goes ahead, An Cotan Childcare Centre will close from 5pm on Friday 28 April unless a viable alternative solution can be found.

"Childcare provision is a long-standing issue in our community, and we have been in discussions with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to explore alternative options for local parents. These discussions will continue.

"We will also approach our partners through the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership to see how we can work together to address the lack of childcare provision, particularly for 0–2-year-olds, in our community.

"We will do everything we can to support this and would welcome discussions with any childcare providers who may be interested in taking over or running a childcare service from our building.

"The viability of our college-run nursery has been a concern for several years and is not connected to our planned merger with UHI North Highland and UHI West Highland, which will create a more sustainable organisation with combined capacity and resource.”

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