Edinburgh leisure chiefs urged to note creche protesters

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the Capital's last four sports centre creches have launched a "bank note" protest.

The Save Our Creche campaign is urging political groups to ring-fence 130,000 to save the last four Edinburgh Leisure creches as part of their budget proposals.

And they have printed "Bank of Hope" bank notes featuring the faces of the councillors who sit on the culture and leisure committee.

A campaign video has also been created, which has been sent to councillors and posted on YouTube.

The creche users campaigned outside the City Chambers yesterday, asking councillors to sign pretend cheques for 130,000 to the Save Our Creche campaign.

Their attention has shifted to councillors after they conceded that there is little prospect of Edinburgh Leisure deciding to keep open the four remaining creches at Ainslie Park, Drumbrae and Gracemount leisure centres, as well as Portobello Swim Centre.

Shairron Murray, one of the organisers of the Save Our Creches campaign, said: "We've sent the video to all councillors and put it up on YouTube and got lots of positive responses.

"We also made some pretend money with the faces of each of the Edinburgh leisure board members on it. And we have 'cheques' from the Bank of Hope asking the councillors to 'sign me please'."

Although it is thought that the Conservative and Labour groups may be willing to ring-fence 130,000 for the creches in their budget proposals, campaigners will have to persuade the Liberal Democrat and SNP coalition to do likewise if the creches are to be saved.

City sport and leisure leader Deidre Brock has confirmed that there is "no likelihood" of creche services provided by Edinburgh Leisure remaining operational after March.

Under proposals by council officials, Edinburgh Leisure would face a 349,000 budget cut.

Ms Murray, 37, from Davidson's Mains, said: "Realistically, Edinburgh Leisure has had a negative attitude towards creches from the start; this is the third time they have tried to close them.

"This time we just want money ring-fenced from the council. We won't give up hope until the last minute – we're going to keep fighting until the end."

Edinburgh Leisure wrote to 97 nursery providers to alert them to the potential opportunity to run the creche service and received 10 responses, with six meetings being held with those who expressed an interest. However, no formal interest has yet been expressed.

Councillor Brock, who declined to comment on potential budget proposals, said: "A number of suggestions for alternative service provision have been put forward directly to me by campaigners, both personally and by e-mail, and we have been working closely with Edinburgh Leisure as they assess these proposals."