FISHERROW Community Nursery is at risk of closure.

Children are preparing to return to the nursery – which has been open for more than 40 years – next week following the summer holidays.

But manager Gordon McIntosh said a “catch-22” situation had arisen because of financial constraints and a failure to meet a legal requirement for the correct number of post holders on the parent management committee which runs the facility.

A partnership nursery with East Lothian Council, based at the Fisherrow Centre, its fate hangs in the balance, with the possible loss of four jobs.

Mr McIntosh said: “In the last year or so we have had a few issues with our background management of the nursery. We didn’t have full capacity of children which was the same as some other nurseries in the area. This affected our income.

“Also, we did not have a fully supported committee as we did not have a lot of families to choose from and those who did may not have been aware of the full responsibility of being in a committee and running our nursery to the constitution that was put in place the last time we had issues with funding.

“Since then, particularly in the last year, funds have slowly dwindled and, more recently, a couple of expensive fines have come our way for not fully carrying out the procedures of ensuring the accounts are passed on to OSCR, the charities regulator, and implementing the workplace pensions for some of the staff.

“These fines mean that, according to our constitution, committee position holders are liable for any fines that will arise if we fold. I was advised by the council to not ask parents to be on the committee as they would be liable too and the current members were not aware of the financial liabilities.

“Fundraising events too were not as prolific as previously and poor attendance for a couple of events did not help.”

He said the nursery survived a funding cut by the council four years ago after the committee set out a business plan.

Mr McIntosh added that the parent management committee currently had two post holders but a third was legally needed.

He said: “We are now in a catch-22 situation – we cannot recruit committee members due to liability just now but we need a full committee to run the nursery and satisfy the needs of the Care Inspectorate – no committee, no certificate; and if no certificate, the council will not support us with funding and they will relocate the existing children, meaning there will be no funds coming in, leading to no payment to staff.

“So we will have four redundancies and angry parents who chose Fisherrow for a reason – that we offer excellent care and education and have been a central part of the Musselburgh and Fisherrow community for over 40 years.

“We have had a lot of support online and through social media with lots of suggestions for funders including the Common Good Fund, so we are investigating many possibilities.

“All we need to do first is raise money to pay fines which will allow us to recruit at least two other committee members. This will enable staff to be paid as we need full committee permission to pay a percentage of our remaining cash, and the committee can then look at changing our constitution to one which lessens liability and bring in members from outside the nursery. It will also enable us to properly seek funds to bring us back up to scratch.

“If we close it will leave a huge gap in the provision in the area, especially at a time when we are seeing the hours of funded care increasing and the amount of families and housing coming into the area increasing also.”

A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said: “Every care service in Scotland must be registered with the Care Inspectorate so we can ensure the care provided is of a good standard, meets their needs and respects their rights.

“We are urgently seeking information from this care provider so we can inspect the quality of care and ensure they are registered in the appropriate way.

“We remain committed to working with the care service to ensure that the care provided to children is safe and meets their needs.”

A council spokesperson said: “East Lothian Council is aware that Fisherrow Community Nursery is experiencing significant difficulties at present. Along with other organisations involved, we have been working with the nursery to support them.”

Ward councillor Stuart Currie said: “I was concerned to learn of the difficulties the nursery seem to be having at present. I have no doubt the nursery will be working with the council and regulators to try and find whatever solutions are possible.

“Clearly the potential closure of any nursery would be a blow in the town, which is why I hope a sustainable future can be found.”

The nursery has a capacity of 20 in the morning and a separate 20 in the afternoon.

Next week’s term would start with 11 in the morning three-years-plus age group, with up to 20 by the end of the year. There are 26 on the waiting list but some might drop away to school nursery.

There are 10 aged two to three for the afternoon group, with more joining as they reach two.