A COUNCIL-RUN nursery has been criticised for not having enough staff when inspectors visited.

The independent watchdog Ofsted said Bright Start Nursery in Brighton had a weak relationship with parents and the council has admitted it should have done more to improve it..

The nursery was given the worst rating having previously been graded good – the second highest of the four official verdicts.

The nursery, which is run by Brighton and Hove City Council, was suffering from a shortage of staff and struggling to recruit when the inspection took place, councillors were told.

Council officials said that they were aware of the issues facing the nursery, which is based in Barrack Yard, near the Prince Regent Swimming Pool.

They reassured the city council’s children, young people and skills committee at Hove Town Hall that the nursery was now almost fully staffed.

But at the time of the inspection last month, Bright Start was relying on bank staff to look after 76 children.

And members of the management team were working directly with the children to ensure adult to child ratios were maintained, leaving office work to build up.

More could have been done to support the nursery, councillors were told.

Caroline Parker, the council’s head of early years, youth and family support, said: “Clearly we did not take enough action.

“We should have taken action at an earlier stage to prevent this inadequate rating.

“I think the inspection went badly on the day.”

Since the inspection the nursery has introduced a new behaviour management policy.

The Ofsted report said that staff did not consistently manage children’s unwanted behaviour and it was critical of assessments and a “weak” relationship with parents.

Parents were described as supportive of the nursery, although two children were withdrawn after the inadequate inspection.

Labour councillor Mo Marsh said that Bright Start was a revolutionary idea when it was set up by the old Brighton Borough Council.

As a retired teacher, mother and grandmother she had sympathy with staff.

Cllr Marsh said: “I remember being a recipient of inspections when I was a teacher.

“I feel for the staff as you need to have a sympathetic inspector when it is not a perfect day.”

A new electronic system giving details of children’s learning goals has been introduced at the nursery since the inspection which took place on Thursday, December 6.