A NURSERY gutted in a suspected arson attack will not have its building rebuilt.

Basildon Council has refused to pay to allow the much-loved Busy Bees nursery, in Laindon Link, Laindon, to rise from the ashes.

Instead, it says it may offer space in a revamped Bluehouse Farm Community Centre, which adjoins the old nursery building and was also damaged in February’s fire.

However, it could take as long as nine months for the work to be completed, leaving the future of the nursery in doubt.

Angry parents and staff have launched a petition urging the council to reconsider.

In less than a week, more than 350 people have signed it.

Supporters are also considering fundraising to set up of their own private nursery.

Tracey Hill, office manager for Busy Bees, said: “The building is still standing.

It’s just the inside which has been destroyed. The council is going to have to spend money tearing it down anyway, so we don’t really understand.

“We just want our building back. We are even happy to pay the running costs ourselves.

“Setting up our own nursery will take a lot of money, so we are having to look into getting some sort of grant. We are willing to do anything we can to see Busy Bees running properly again.”

Until the start of the Easter holidays, it had a temporary home at Janet Duke Primary School, in Markhams Chase, and before that it was in the nearby Manor Mission Church, in Manor Road.

However, it cannot stay in any one venue for more than two weeks without registering the building with Ofsted.

A council spokesman said: “We are working closely with Busy Bees to find alternative accommodation in the short term, as it’s the only group not yet relocated after the fire.

“We are considering options which could mean the play centre will not need to be rebuilt, reducing the cost of providing the facility and avoiding the inevitable disruption to its neighbours.”

To sign the petition online visit petitions24.com /busybeespreschool