SHOCK and heartbreak greeted news that a popular nursery could close next July.

Harvey Nursery in Great Lever has been earmarked for closure by Bolton Council which says it can no longer afford to run it.

Yesterday, parents some of whom did not know about the plans, were visibly shocked and upset by the move.

Some said they were willing to pay more if it could help keep the nursery going and praised the staff for looking after their children as if they were their own.

Amy McHugh’s son Finlay, aged 18 months, has been attending the nursery for nine months.

She said: “I am so shocked, it is like a family at the nursery. My son loves it, he never stops talking about what he does in nursery. He has made friends.

“They are so good with every single child. It is heartbreaking. I live in Farnworth and I work very close to the nursery.

“It is so reassuring. I would pay more if it would help,”

Another parent, who has a two-year-old at the nursery, said: “I did not know the nursery could close, this is a big shock.

“My daughter loves going. The staff are lovely, they are always doing different activities with her.

“Now I will have to find another place.”

Parents also said there were cheaper nurseries which were operating but chose to send their children there. They told The Bolton News they would get involved in the 30 day consultation period.

Harvey Nursery is the only nursery run directly by the council, which says say it can no longer afford to run it.

Fourteen jobs will be lost and 60 children will have to be found alternative places if plans are approved.

Harvey Nursery is based in The Harvey Children’s Centre, Shaw Street.

Education bosses said they have been working for the past four years to try and make the non-profit making nursery sustainable — but say ‘there is nothing there that could be cut that has not been cut’.

The nursery has an annual deficit of almost £68,000 which, says Bolton Council, is likely to increase with each year it stays open.

Savings of £100 million and national cuts and changes to nursery funding are being blamed.

A 30-day consultation has now been launched on the proposed closure with results taken back to Bolton Council’s cabinet meeting before a final decision is made.

Bosses say they are looking for ideas and stressed no decision had been made at this stage. Letters were sent to parents by first class post on Monday outlining the proposals.