We're committed to safety, says nursery

Parents of youngsters at a North Norfolk nursery have been assured it is committed to the safety of children, despite two incidents which have sparked concerns and official investigations.

Parents of youngsters at a North Norfolk nursery have been assured it is committed to the safety of children, despite two incidents which have sparked concerns and official investigations.

Local people were shocked when a two-year-old girl escaped from the Cromer Sure Start Centre and was found wandering on the busy road outside.

Then it was revealed that at the same centre just weeks earlier, a one-year-old baby boy was scalded by a cup of hot drink.

Officials are undertaking a “thorough review” of provision following the two incidents at the centre, which is on the site of Suffield Park Infants School.

Head Ian Money said: “It is deeply regrettable that there have been two incidents at the day care section of the centre in such close succession, and we apologies to the children and families concerned.”

The child was recovering and “our thoughts are with him and his parents,” he added.

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Two members of staff had been suspended while investigations continued into the scalding incident.

Mr Money added: “I would like to reassure parents that our safety record in the past has been good and we remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our children.”

He added: “Security at our children's centre has been praised in the past and we are committed to ensuring that all children are safe at all times.

The incident involving the two-year-old girl happened at midday on Friday as parents were preparing to pick up their children.

Mr Money said the school was always vigilant about arrangements to collect children, but were urgently reviewing security and stepping it up ever further.

Parents spoke of their shock, and relief that it did not have a tragic conclusion.

It is understood she found on Mill Road, just opposite Kristopher's, by a woman in a black 4x4.

The woman stopped and got out of the car before going into Kristopher's and the nearby Londis store to ask if staff knew the child. She then called the police and took the child to the nursery.

Parents admitted they were shocked, but said it was unexpected at a centre known to be “hot on security”.

Coral Banning, 24, from Cromer, who has a three-year-old girl, Leah, at the nursery, said: “It's concerning to hear and you wouldn't expect it. The security is quite good. You have to ring a bell to get in. I'll still be taking her there. I've not heard any bad things about the place before.”

Another mum, who asked not to be named, who has a son at the nursery, said: “I've every confidence in them. They're hot on security. They won't let anybody go unless they are with their own mum and dad. Even when my daughter's ready to go, it won't stop me taking her there.”

A Cromer mother-of-two said: “I think it's disgusting. I wanted my little one to go, but I don't know now. It's scared me a bit. The doors are key locked - I don't know how that happened.”

Susan Walsh, 51, who runs Kristopher's, said: “The little girl shot out in front of a car. How she didn't get knocked over I don't know.”

Christine Brett, 49, who was in the shop at the time said: “The child must have just wandered out and walked. She was convinced her mummy was in the shop.

“If that had been a bus, she would have been killed. She could have been taken by anybody.”

School governors chairman Dr Vivienne Lennox said: “Everyone at the school is devastated by the news that a child managed to leave the nursery building. We would all like to offer our sincere apologies to the family.

“While we await the outcome of the investigation we've taken a number of measures to even further enhance the security.”

The centre was officially opened in March 2006, at the same time as a similar facility at Mundesley.

Sure Start children's centres are one of the government's big ideas to enhance the life chances of youngsters and families in some of England's less affluent areas.

They have a host of services under one roof, including health visitors, midwives, advice on debt management, relationships, behaviour, parenting and child development.

At Norfolk County Council, Marcelle Curtis, head of early years, childcare and extended schools services, said: "A thorough review of provision at the children's centre is under way following these two separate incidents and we will be working with the school and children's centre to ensure that health and safety policy is being fully followed.”

Health and safety arrangements in schools and nurseries were “robust” and the council offered advice and support where necessary.

“Each setting has its own health and safety policy in place and Ofsted carry out regular unannounced inspections of early years providers. We will be reissuing guidance to childcare settings to ensure they are following the latest advice.”