Bayswater exempts Casa Mia Montessori Playgroup from rates

The outdoor area.
The outdoor area.

A BAYSWATER playgroup has avoided closure, after the local council exempted it from paying rates.

Casa Mia Montessori Playgroup leases the City of Bayswater-owned former primary school building in Hudson Street.

The not-for-profit group is based on Montessori philosophy and caters for 30 families with children aged 18 months to four years old.

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It runs sessions from Monday to Wednesday which incorporate free play, early language and storytime, morning tea, craft, music and movement time and outside play.

The group was struggling to meet financial obligations such as increased utility costs.

Bayswater Council voted 5-5 last week in response to Cr Giorgia Johnson’s motion, before Mayor Dan Bull used his casting vote in support.

Group president Brooke Arrowsmith said the group was “very pleased and relieved” with the council’s decision.

“Utility costs were increasing and managing finances became constantly requesting donations for supplies, deferring payments and relying on variable fundraising attempts to stay open,” she said.

“Over the past 12 years, our playgroup’s financial status has had its ups and downs.

“The exemption from council rates will be a grateful reprieve so we can now focus funds on educational resources.”

The nature play area.

Some councillors were concerned the decision would set a precedence for other playgroups to apply for exemptions.

Ms Arrowsmith said many playgroups in the area did not lease buildings and only leased rooms so the group did not believe the decision would lead to a precedence.

Officers had recommended to reject the playgroup’s request because they believed the group did not fall under the categories of charitable purposes in the Charitable Uses Act.

However, Cr Bull said the playgroup were providing an advancement of education which fell under the charitable purpose term in the Act.

Cr Barry McKenna suggested providing a donation of $451.50 for the next financial year, to allow the playgroup to operate until a review on leases for playgroups across the City was undertaken.

Ms Arrowsmith said the group aimed to expand its memberships and continue offering families a fun place to start their children’s education.

For information and to trial a free session, email casamia.playgroup@yahoo.com.

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