Peedie Breeks is a long established and valued business in Kirkwall. The decision of the owners to cease trading will have a significant impact on a number of families. This issue has attracted public interest in the last week and we thought it might be useful to provide you with some information on some of the main issues that have been raised.
The business has been a tenant within the former Papdale Halls of Residence building for over twenty years. When the new Halls of Residence opened in October 2013, Peedie Breeks was able to remain in the redundant building. The council has agreed to a succession of lease extensions, which has given the business time to find or build alternative premises. Throughout this period the council has underwritten the costs of keeping the building open. The rent paid by Peedie Breeks does not cover the costs and is below market value due to the uncertain and difficult times the business has had to face.
The owners made it clear that they wished to provide their business from a new build under their ownership and our Estates team have worked closely with the owners on identifying various sites in Kirkwall where a new development could be built.
A preferred site was identified by the owners, which was then offered to them at market value. As a private business, it is expected, and entirely proper, for the owners to fund the purchase of this and any development they did on the site.
The owners were also offered the opportunity to rent the site, thereby reducing their costs, but this offer was declined.
The lease for Peedie Breeks was extended on two more occasions to June 2020, in order to allow as long as possible for the business to relocate.
The decision to demolish the former Halls of Residence, taken by Councillors in November 2018 (at Policy and Resources Committee on 27 November) meant that no further extensions could be granted.
Due to various regulations, including those relating to state aid and business competition, great care is taken to ensure the Council’s funding policies are designed appropriately.
Our Economic Development Service was unable to support a grant application because grant assistance to businesses and organisations is provided under these set policies and procedures, which have to strictly specify the kinds of projects that are eligible.
The Council’s policy cannot support ’applications from the retail goods and services sector serving the internal market' - as Peedie Breeks is considered to be a service-sector business and operating in a potentially competitive local market then they didn't qualify for this specific funding.
The business owners’ preference to own the site rather than lease the site, also limited the funding options available from the Council.
The Council has an obligation to ensure provision for eligible two, three and four year olds.
This can be in a local authority nursery (usually based in a school), with a childminder who is in partnership with the local authority, or with a partner nursery.
In Kirkwall, we provide early learning and childcare at Papdale, the Strynd and Glaitness, but we also fund places at Peedie Breeks and with two local childminders. Parents can choose which setting they would like their child to attend and where possible we accommodate their choice.
We will be actively looking to ensure alternative provision for all entitled children ahead of Peedie Breeks closure in July 2020.
In addition the council will be working with our Community Planning Partners to secure a wider service provision for the day care of very young children, early learning and childcare and out of school care in Kirkwall.
A parents’ group has been established following Peedie Breeks' announcement and staff from the council team will look to work with them on identifying the key issues and establishing a course of action.
This means a big increase in the number of childcare hours provided in Orkney.Some of our larger local authority settings are increasing in size to accommodate the same number of children for extra hours. Peedie Breeks were very much part of our plans for meeting this and we would have funded children for more hours there too. You can see this in our Delivery Plan, which can be found here.
The Scottish Government has introduced a new National Standard for funded early learning and childcare provision. From August 2020, registered childcare providers who are graded ‘good or better’ by the Care Inspectorate can offer funded early learning and childcare. Childcare providers who do not meet this standard have a short period of time to improve, after which they will not be able to offer funded provision. This is the same for all settings - local authority nurseries, private nurseries and childminders.
Councillors have been involved in decision making from an early stage.
The situation was the subject of a series of reports to the Council’s Asset Management Sub-Committee, which in turn reports to the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, through which the lease extensions were agreed.
There was also a Members Seminar on the future of the former Papdale Halls of Residence at which situation in relation to Peedie Breeks was raised as a key issue.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this, then please contact Karen Walter, who is our Delivery Programme Manager. Karen will be acting as the council’s first point of contact and making sure any specific questions are dealt with by the most appropriate person and will hear any concerns you might have – email Karen Walter using this link.