Some community buildings in East Lothian will temporarily close or see reduced operation due to an ongoing shortage of essential staff.

East Lothian Council continues to face extreme staffing pressures due to absence levels - much of it COVID-19 related – as well as a number of key vacancies. Facilities Management, which provides cleaning services for public buildings across the county, is particularly affected.

The decision will mean that staff can focus on the cleaning and safe operation of statutory services – such as schools and care homes.

The following buildings are affected:

  • John Gray Centre, Haddington – closed from now until 20 December. The closure will affect the library, museum and archives
  • Port Seton Library – closed from Friday, 10 December until the end of January
  • George Johnstone Centre, Tranent – during the week of 13 December, the centre will be open on Monday and Thursday only before re-opening on 20 December. The closure will affect the library and local office

A number of public toilets are already closed, or being limited to use of the disabled toilet only, for the same reasons. The busiest toilets remain fully open.

Tom Reid, Head of Infrastructure, East Lothian Council, said:

“This action is highly regrettable but is a direct reflection of the fact that we continue to face extreme staffing challenges.

“At a time when COVID-19 infection levels remain high and the ongoing pandemic is continuing to impact on society, the council needs to ensure that our limited cleaning resources at this time are focused on statutory services and keeping facilities such as schools and care homes clean, safe and fully open.

“We have a significant shortage of cleaning staff and, whilst we have been taking actions to re-deploy and move staff around, the position is not currently sustainable.

“In managing and deploying staff, we have a duty of care to employees. We are actively trying to fill vacancies and looking at temporary measures to bring in resources from elsewhere in order to address this problem.

“We are very grateful to local people for their patience and understanding. We appreciate these difficult decisions are inconvenient and frustrating.

“The situation will be kept under review so that we can look to re-open facilities for the benefit of the public when it is practical.”

Published: Wednesday, 8th December 2021