Lancashire County Council has welcomed the news that nearly 200 more children, and their families, will soon benefit from 30 hours of free childcare each week in two nurseries built to accommodate them.

This follows a successful bid by the county council to the Education Funding Agency (EFA), part of the Department for Education (DfE), to create the new childcare places.

Over 1.4 million funding has been awarded to the county council, enabling two new children's day nurseries to be built in Preston, resulting in nearly 200 more places being available from September 1.

Staff at the county council worked in partnership with existing nursery providers to successfully bid for the funding, as part of the government's 30 hours free childcare offer. The childcare providers have to provide 25% of funding themselves towards the new facilities.

One of the new nurseries, Little Sparkles, will be built at Peel Hall Street, Preston. The nursery, based at the Preston Muslim Society, will provide 120 new 30-hour places for eligible children. A new two-storey building will be developed to accommodate this.

Ashbridge Nursery School will be located on Sandy Lane, Cottam. The nursery will provide 78 additional 30-hour funded places in a new building.

The new investment follows the government's pledge last year to support childcare providers to deliver the 30 hours of free childcare for some working parents of three and four-year olds.

All three and four-year-olds are already entitled to 15 hours of free childcare each week. This is also available to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds.

County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "We are really pleased that we have secured this additional funding. Staff involved clearly did a good job in demonstrating the need to provide extra places at these nurseries. There was no guarantee that they would be successful as they were competing with bids from across the country. The Education Funding Agency had clearly stated that funding would be prioritised to authorities nationally that were able to evidence the strongest need for additional childcare places.

"As a result, two new nurseries will be built in Preston, meaning that more children will benefit from free places in superb facilities and more support for working parents."

More information about childcare, family support and eligibility for free places is available at http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/childre...childcare.aspx