MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for enjoyleisure not to remove a creche service at facilities across East Lothian.

The organisation manages leisure facilities across the county on behalf of East Lothian Council.

However, it has taken the decision to close the creches following a drop in funding.

The move has not gone down well with a number of parents, who fear they may have to cancel their gym memberships if the creche service does not continue.

A group of parents met with Iain Gray, East Lothian’s MSP, on Monday to discuss the issue.

Among them was Sarah Brunton, who regularly uses enjoyleisure’s facilities in North Berwick, Haddington and Dunbar.

The mum-of-four said she had improved her fitness at the facilities since having her children. She said: “It’s down to those facilities and being able to have a healthier lifestyle.

“It is about not just weight loss but also a mental health aspect. It gives you confidence and a lift after you have done exercise and it is proven that exercise does improve mental health.”

Mrs Brunton stressed the issue affected “a lot of people” and many were considering whether to cancel their membership.

Another of those who has signed the online petition is 26-year-old Erin Malone, who uses the Aubigny Sports Centre, in Haddington, and Tranent’s Loch Centre.

She said: “The creche is really important – not just for me but my son as well.

“My daughter used it as well and we have been using it for over six years.

“It is a social thing and a mental health thing as well.”

Lydia Eunson, from Dunbar, uses the sports centre in Dunbar twice a week.

She added: “My husband works away four weeks at a time and I don’t have any family near here.

“Basically, I could not use the gym unless I paid a babysitter or went to a gym in Edinburgh with a creche.”

Bill Axon, general manager of enjoyleisure, stressed it was not a decision that was taken lightly, with discussions taking place with trade unions and no date set for any creche closure.

He said: “We truly appreciate that the crèche service, which is supervised by highly-regarded staff, is an incredibly valued service by those who make use of it.

“It is because of this fact, that the decision to withdraw this service has been so incredibly difficult.

“Over the past 10 years, since enjoy’s creation, we have retained this service for the benefit of our customers, despite operating at a shortfall.

“However, as user numbers continue to decline year upon year, the subsequent financial deficit has increased strain on the rest of the organisation.

“Given the funding reductions and additional financial challenges faced by enjoy this year, we have reached the point where we simply cannot continue to subsidise a deficit of this magnitude.

“Additionally, strict adult to child ratios and current charging requirements reduce our capacity of increasing income for this service, and at existing user levels, it is not possible to retain this provision at an affordable cost to customers.”

Mr Gray has got in touch with enjoyleisure to highlight the various concerns.

Mr Gray said: “I met with a group of women campaigning against the crèche closures and listened very carefully to their concerns.

“It’s clear that whatever the reasons for the withdrawal of the crèche service, it will have a significant impact on those who currently use it.

“I have now written to enjoyleisure to highlight the concerns raised with me and ask for a response.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, leader of the SNP Group on East Lothian Council, was similarly unimpressed with the decision to scrape the creches.

He said the SNP Group was supporting the petition calling for enjoyleisure to think again.

The Musselburgh councillor said: “In Haddington, Musselburgh and every other town this damaging decision will hit many people, particularly women, the hardest.”

Council leader Willie Innes (Lab) has written to Gordon Wales, chairman of the enjoyleisure board, to express his concern about the proposed changes.

He said: "Following concerns expressed to me by regular users of enjoyleisure facilities about the closure of crèches I have written to Gordon Wales outlining the council's position about the importance of access to leisure facilities.

“Crèches provide an important resource for families to be able to fully access a range of leisure activities and I hope alternative measures can be considered."

To sign the petition, go to