THE role of councillors in the closure of creches within leisure centres across East Lothian has come under the spotlight.

Creches at enjoyleisure’s sports centres in Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick, Tranent and Musselburgh closed for good on April 26.

The decision, which was taken in March, was met with anger by a number of regular users. enjoyleisure’s board, which includes four East Lothian councillors, took the decision.

Labour councillors John McMillan, Colin McGinn and Jim Goodfellow, along with Conservative Gordon Mackett, are members of the board for enjoyleisure.

The Labour trio attended a meeting, with Mr Mackett sending his apologies, in February, where discussions about the budget for the coming year took place.

The budget strategy paper, which considered the future of the creches, was unanimously approved.

Mr Goodfellow stressed that the decision was not taken as Labour politicians but as members of the enjoyleisure board.

He said: “This is not a political decision. We serve on the enjoyleisure board as board members. We are not party politically affiliated in that role. We are not councillors, we are enjoyleisure board members and have to take the financial security of enjoyleisure as our first priority.

“In terms of the decision being made, enjoy, like all other charities in the local government sector, has to at least break even at the end of the year and the massive financial losses which the creches were having could not be sustained any longer. They were not being used in any large amounts, only had a small use, and the subsidy that was being paid from enjoy’s funds towards the creches could no longer be justified.”

Mr Goodfellow said discussions were ongoing between enjoyleisure and other parties regarding alternative arrangements to see a creche-type facility provided.

His party colleague Mr McMillan told the Courier it was “a very tough decision” to close the creche facilities. He said: “Obviously, it was costing a considerable amount of money for the relatively few users.

“We did reach out to the users to offer them the opportunity to come and meet. They have not done that yet and we hope they will come and meet us.”

Mr McGinn echoed Mr McMillan’s view that it was a “tough decision”.

He said: “We are in a position now where decisions are being made by charitable organisations up and down the country.

“Unfortunately, East Lothian is not any different in that respect.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, leader of the SNP Group on East Lothian Council, called for an apology from the Labour councillors.

He had submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to enjoyleisure calling for the minutes of the meeting to be made public. He said: “Having received the response with omissions and heavy redactions, I have asked for a review and will, if required, seek a direction from the information commissioner to release the details of my request.

“However, a further development is that enjoy have now informed me that of the decision to close down creche facilities at our sports centres was unanimously supported in February by the three Labour councillors who were appointed to the board of enjoy. This revelation is shocking in that not one of them have said a word since the decision was made public.When Labour decided to exclude the SNP from any of these board appointments, it has now become clear why.

“Those Labour councillors should now apologise for firstly cutting the budget to enjoy and then hiding in private meetings to vote through cuts that will directly affect many young mums across the county.”