Fire-stricken St Albans nursery generating anger
PUBLISHED: 16:51 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010
A COUPLE have been forced to sleep at their nursery business every night to stop thieves targeting the generator they have been relying on since a fire destroyed the building s electricity supplies. Firefighters managed to save Mount Carmel Kindergarten i
A COUPLE have been forced to sleep at their nursery business every night to stop thieves targeting the generator they have been relying on since a fire destroyed the building's electricity supplies.
Firefighters managed to save Mount Carmel Kindergarten in Sandpit Lane, St Albans, from the flames which gutted Verulam School's sports pavilion in the early hours of Sunday, January 10.
But the fire destroyed its electricity supplies, which were shared with the pavilion, and principal Lucia Federici said Herts County Council (HCC) had since refused to help.
Mrs Federici and her husband Franco own the building, which they had built 10 years ago, but HCC own the land and approval is therefore needed from them to reconnect supplies.
Even though the couple have offered to pay for the work, they claim County Hall is unsympathetic and has told them the terms of their lease need investigating first.
The frustrated couple were therefore left with no other option but to get a temporary generator installed last Thursday so that the kindergarten could reopen - at a weekly cost of £1,000 which they are unlikely to recoup through their insurance.
To add insult to injury, thieves stole the generator's power cable on Monday evening, leaving lessons to be taught without electricity on Tuesday and an even bigger bill.
Now the couple believe they have no alternative but to sleep at the nursery every night to prevent the generator and any other paraphernalia going missing.
Mrs Federici said: "We do count ourselves very lucky that we have still got a building but it isn't easy managing like this when you are looking after all these children under five.
"It's very stressful and I don't feel like I'm getting any support, even though I'm serving 100 families in the area. HCC should be righting this for me but I don't feel that's happening.
"We are a business but we receive Government funding and there should be some department in the council that can help me. But they are just trying to pass the buck and wash their hands of it."
She added: "I think it's appalling in this day and age, and when it's affecting so many people - including parents, young children and our staff - that somebody isn't getting their finger out and just reconnecting the services for us.
"The parents have been fantastic, they are really loyal and are all behind me and are sympathetic. But their patience is wearing thin because when we can't open it's a struggle for them as well."
Mrs Federici and the many frustrated parents have also written to St Albans MP Anne Main to ask for her help in trying to resolve the matter.
A spokesperson for HCC said: "We have every sympathy with her situation but we have got to investigate how this goes forward and need to look at the lease terms.