Fight back on to save sports centre crèches

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PARENTS have resurrected a campaign to save the four remaining Edinburgh Leisure-run crèches from closure.

The council-run firm said last week it will have to shut all the crches unless an alternative service provider can be found, despite a successful campaign last year to keep them open.

The decision has been blamed in part on the huge cutbacks being made by the city council.

Edinburgh Leisure also said that the crche services at Ainslie Park Leisure Centre, Drumbrae Leisure Centre, Portobello Swim Centre and Gracemount Leisure Centre had not been well used in the last year.

Parents are now planning a series of demonstrations as they once again launch their campaign to fight the closures.

Campaigners say closing the crches will deny parents access to Edinburgh Leisure facilities and will have a negative impact on their mental and physical health, with many mothers with post-natal depression being recommended to use these facilities.

Mother-of-two Shairron Murray, from Davidson's Mains, is just one parent who has used exercise to help her overcome post-natal depression and is "devastated" by news of the closure.

The 37-year-old said: "We will have nobody to look after the children during the day which will halt all exercise for me.

"I will have to stop both children's swimming lessons as I need to be able to put one child in the crche while I take the second one to their lesson.

The decision to close the crches is an extremely selfish and shortsighted one."

Vikki Wall, 32, also from Davidson's Mains, said the crche facility has provided her and her three children with a lifeline.

She said: "I have used the Ainslie Park crche now for over four years, starting when my first son was 11 months old.

"A friend suggested the gym at Ainslie Park as it had this wonderful crche. I have to say that that was the best thing I have ever done.

"It got me out of the house a couple of mornings a week and got me socialising."

Mother-of-two Gillian Munro, 36, from Leith, uses the facilities at Portobello.

She said: "We moved to Edinburgh when my daughter was a little less than one, and quite shortly after I started to leave her in the crche at Portobello while I swam or went to a class.

"It was her first experience of being away from me, and it did us both the world of good, and in fact probably gave me the confidence to think of going back to work and moving on with life."

Edinburgh Leisure said the crches receive around 200 visits per week, which is deemed too low to maintain the service. The company pledged to work with the crches to find alternative provision.