BAILIFFS arrived at a nursery school just hours after staff, teachers and pupils staged a protest to keep the facility open.

Sommerville Nursery needed to move from its current premises in Sparta Street, Blackheath, to make way for work on the Heathside and Lethbridge redevelopment.

Lewisham Council says it has worked hard to help the nursery, giving it three separate lease extensions, and now needs to handover the property to Family Mosaic for development.

But manager Stella Moss said the council's offer of an alternative site at nearby Melville House was withdrawn at "the 99th hour" and the 35 pupils now have nowhere else to go.

She said: "It's provided a very vital service for 15 years.

"Getting new commercial premises has been a very, very difficult thing.

"The stress they've put me through could have killed me. I want to provide a service to the community."

Last week, Mrs Moss led a party of parents and children to Catford town hall for a protest and said it took two hours for anybody to speak to them.

She has found a new site near Lewisham shopping centre but wanted a temporary lease extension to provide time to seal the deal - an idea that has been rejected.

But after leaving the town hall, bailiffs arrived on site while children were still there.

Mrs Moss said: "We just wanted a short period of time for us to be able to carry on and move to this new place.

"I've got nowhere to put the kids and Melville House is empty. Why can't we use that for the sake of the parents?"

Christopher Aladesulu, aged 56, of Lewisham Road, sends three children to the nursery, ranked good in all areas by Ofsted.

He said: "Other nurseries are very expensive and I'll have to start from square one finding a new one.

"At the moment I can't go to work and I don't know my fate."

A Lewisham Council spokesman said: "The council has worked hard to support Mrs Moss and her business throughout the project to redevelop Heathside and Lethbridge estate.

"We have tried to balance the needs of parents for ongoing nursery provision with respect for the business built up by Mrs Moss over many years.

"We remain committed to ensuring continuity of nursery provision to parents and trying to help where at all possible – there are currently more than enough vacancies at alternative local nurseries to accommodate the children at Sommerville."