CRECHES in East Lothian’s leisure centres will shut their doors later this month.

Enjoyleisure, which runs sports centres, swimming pools, sports pitches and two golf courses across the county, announced last month that creches would be closing following a drop in funding.

Now, the charity has confirmed that the service will be withdrawn from noon on April 26.

Bill Axon, general manager of enjoyleisure, said: “I genuinely appreciate how disappointing such decisions can be for certain patrons, however, I can assure our customers and future customers, the Board of enjoy and myself are committed to ensuring the ongoing provision of sport, leisure and fun activities across East Lothian for many years to come.”

A petition, signed by nearly 1,200 people, was launched by a group of concerned parents under the banner ‘Children and Families of East Lothian’ following the announcement the creches would be closing.

A group of parents contacted Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian, about the issue and met with representatives from enjoyleisure in a bid to see the decision reversed.

Mum-of-four Sarah Brunton was among those campaigning for the facilities to remain in place.

She regularly uses the sports centres in Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar and was disappointed to hear a date had now been set.

And she warned the decision could lead to people cancelling their memberships.

She said: “Basically, the people I have spoken to, each and every one of us, will have to withdraw our membership.

"We have not got any other option.”

Over the past 10 years, since enjoyleisure’s creation, the crèche service has been retained for the benefit of customers, despite operating at a shortfall.

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

A spokeswoman for the group said “strict adult to child ratios and current charging requirements reduce enjoyleisure’s 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”.

With “substantial increases” in business operational costs and a drop in council funding, enjoyleisure took the decision to “re-evaluate its current financial and operational position in order to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the whole organisation”.

Mr Axon told the Courier: “I also recognise the efforts of the ‘Children and Families of East Lothian’, with whom I have met with personally, to outline our current position and provide further detail to the wider context within which has ultimately forced us into making these decisions.”

The general manager also described enjoyleisure staff as “a credit to themselves”.

He added: “We would additionally like to take this opportunity to thank our customers and staff for their continued support and loyalty.

“As a local charitable organisation, we cannot survive without your backing, and we are incredibly grateful for this.

“As East Lothian’s sports and leisure charity, we work closely with East Lothian Council, local sports clubs and the wider community to maintain affordable access to safe and fit for purpose facilities to the best of our ability.

“This, even though the financial environment within which we operate is currently exceptionally difficult, remains a principal objective.

“Likewise, to retain sport and leisure facilities in all our major towns, which allows for easy, local access for all our communities.”