Following concern from residents over the discontinuation of the Council's holiday club in East Reading I asked for an update and got the following:
Briefing Holiday clubs – Hamilton Road and Green Park
- RBC provided school holiday provision at St Joseph’s College in east Reading for over ten years. St Joseph’s College informed RBC play service in late March 2013 that we would no longer be able to run from their site after Easter 2013, as they were intending to deliver their own holiday provision going forward. St Josephs had been our busiest site averaging 27 children on a daily basis with peaks of up to 45 children in the summer holidays.
- In April 2013 we began to search for new premises within the East Reading area. We decided to go for Hamilton Road, as this is an existing RBC site and there was already some youth and early years services based there. It was also close to the vicinity to St Josephs and could therefore continue to meet the need of the previous users.
- The holiday club based at Hamilton Rd opened for the summer holiday 2013. The site was advertised extensively and had all the same activities planned that had previously been on offer at St Josephs, so there was no change to the programme and what was on offer or the cost of fees to parents.
- At Hamilton Rd the average attendance over the summer period in 2013 was an average of 12 children, with a low of 6 children. St Joseph’s in the meantime continued to provide their holiday club. This explained some of the low take up of places we offered at Hamilton Rd during this summer. Clearly some parents continued with the provision at St Josephs.
- The take up of places remained constantly low for future holiday clubs based at Hamilton rd in October and February half terms. The average was again 12 children.
- In Easter 2014 we reviewed whether it was viable to continue to run at Hamilton Rd as during the financial year 2013/14 we had calculated a loss of £7k. This was largely due to lost income from the fees which offsets the cost of providing this service to the council.
- Prior to the Easter holidays there were 15 booking for the first week and 4 in the second week at Hamilton Rd. We provided the first week of holiday club at Hamilton Rd and numbers were average 15 a day. The second week was cancelled as it wasn’t financially sustainable to provide this service for an average of 4 children. On one day there were no children booked in. The 4 children that were booked in to Hamilton Rd were offered to transfer to Waterloo Meadows holiday club and only one declined this option. Waterloo Meadows is approximately a mile away from St Joseph.
- The situation at Hamilton Rd had been a growing concern due to increasingly low take up of the provision, it is proving unsustainable. There are several other providers in the east Reading area. St Joseph’s continue to deliver their own provision which we were in effect competing with, and Waterloo Meadows approximately a mile away is RBCs most sustainable holiday provision. On this basis we are not offering a Hamilton Rd session in the next half-term, and have offered previous customers Waterloo Meadows.
- We will be reviewing the supply, budget and viability of the Hamilton Rd summer provision in June.
- We were recently approached by the Mad House based in Green Park with regard to taking on their holiday playclub in March 2014 and after checking the site and assessing the options it was decided this would be suitable to pursue. There is currently no provision on this area of Reading. The facilities on offer are of a good standard. There is access to soft play included within the hire arrangement. Interest and demand for holiday provision by workers within Green Park was evident. To ensure we could maintain or increase our income streams and prevent any further budget pressures the decision to offer a new provision in this area was made.
- The opportunity to do this is a very recent development. We have moved quickly to make the most of this opportunity as we want to test this over the May half term and consider of this would be a good site for future holiday provision as there seems to be a growing demand in this area.