A POPULAR children’s playgroup may be forced to close due to a proposed rent increase.

St Hilda’s Playgroup, which operates out of the Parochial Hall in Tottington, has said it may have to vacate the premises by January 2020.

The playgroup had been in talks with the Diocese of Salford for several months, however its organisers say that the rent rise demanded “far exceeds the scope of revenue”.

A letter sent out by the playgroup’s leader, Carol Heys, and her team, said: “This news has been absolutely devastating for each staff member and we have no doubt parents and families will be equally upset to hear this too.”

Mother of two Antoinette Hamilton, whose daughters have both attended the playgroup for several years, said: “Some people completely rely on the playgroup because it is affordable childcare.

“I’m going to have to find someone else who can have my child on those days. There are going to be cost implications and it’s stressful. It’s not just about finding childcare but people you trust with your child.”

Ms Heys and her team say they are now working to safeguard the future of the playgroup, which has been running for more than 40 years. In their letter they announced they are looking to move to a new location and say enquiries and negotiations are ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Salford said: “A recent review of the financial position of the parish of St Hilda’s found that parish donations were being used to subsidise a business that was being run from the parish hall.

“As a charity we have a responsibility to use the donations of our parishioners responsibly and this is a situation that we could not allow to continue.

“Our proposals to the playgroup owners sought to bring this situation in line with practices in parish halls across the diocese.

“The diocese is continuing to hold positive discussions with parents about the future of the playgroup. We are confident that we can find a way to work together in the best interests of the parish and the playgroup. “