A PRE-SCHOOL at risk of closure is to benefit from a cash injection but its future is still hanging in the balance.

Civic chiefs have secured £2,000 to support the charity-run Mulberry Pre-School in Valley Park. But its future has not yet been secured and if more funding is not found, it could shut within three years.

As previously reported, members of the committee which runs the pre-school, based at Valley Park Community Centre, said only five out of the 25 children who attend the pre-school pay the full charge of £5.30 per hour, while the rest of the children benefit from the ‘early years education entitlement’ supported by Hampshire County Council.

Treasurer Andrew Prestidge said this means the authority pays them £4.37 per child per hour, causing a loss of almost £15,000.

Now councillor Alan Dowden said Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council will contribute with £1,000 each towards the pre-school, but more funding will have to be found.

“I still have much hope that businesses will come forward and assist them but I would do everything I can to make sure that this service to young parents is provided. This pre-school is not for profit,” councillor Dowden said.

But he reiterated that a change must come from the government.

“The government needs to be realistic.

“If they offer free nurseries they have to have the funding to enable nurseries to operate,”he said.

Mr Prestidge said he has been contacted by another local pre-school near Winchester who is in a similar situation and they are planning to write a letter to local MPs.

“We will try to co-ordinate a number of pre-schools in the area which are in the same situation. We have not had any business coming forward yet. It would be a great Christmas gift if any business would come forward now,” he added.

Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes said: “I have met with a number of local pre-schools over the past year to discuss their concerns about funding and have personally fed this back to ministers in the Department for Education.

“From this financial year, local authorities are required to pass on at least 95% of received funding to education providers.

“As a result of these changes, the vast majority of early years education providers will see their funding increase and I very much hope this will help those providers who are struggling.”