Community rallies behind nursery school targeted by angry villagers

Nursery owner Hayley Peacock, right,, at the newly-opened  premises with Michael Smith of TMC Construction, 'and architect Helen Gaffney with staff and children. Photo: Stvee Robards SR1922091 SUS-190309-102501001
Nursery owner Hayley Peacock, right,, at the newly-opened premises with Michael Smith of TMC Construction, 'and architect Helen Gaffney with staff and children. Photo: Stvee Robards SR1922091 SUS-190309-102501001

Residents of a village near Horsham have rallied to the defence of a nursery school where staff and children have been targeted by an angry group.

Staff at the newly-opened Little Barn Owls Nursery in Southwater have had their tyres tampered with and children have been approached ‘aggressively.’

But now other residents have hit out at the anti-social behaviour branding it ‘disgusting’, ‘appalling’ and ‘shocking.’

The trouble flared after Southwater Parish Council leased a building - Easteds Barn - to the nursery. Many villagers were left fuming because the barn had previously been used as a community centre.

Bur nursery owner Hayley Peacock this week reported the matter to police after staff members’ car tyres were let down and ‘keyed’ and children approached aggressively as the nursery opened following renovation works at the barn.

Hayley said: “It was not my decision to commercially let the barn. I am just a tenant who took the lease on because Southwater needs child day care.”

Now many have taken to social media to condemn those who have been intimadating the nursery.

Paul Martin commented: “The poor teachers, staff and pupils are innocents in this. They are only looking to provide a service that is needed to the community, it’s not their fault where they are, how can people vent at them, shocking behaviour.”

And Michelle Nunn posted: “The staff are the nicest people you could meet and do not deserve to be abused in the street for going to work.”

Kelly Gray said: “Utterly disgusting behaviour. Those villagers should be ashamed of themselves.”

Nick Longdon said he was one of the Southwater residents who protested to the parish council about leasing out Easteds Barn but added: “I thought that the community had moved on. I am therefore absolutely appalled to hear about the behaviour of some local residents towards staff and particularly children, and want to totally dissociate myself from this.

“Indeed if I knew this would happen I would have never got involved.” He said the nursery was providing an important service.