A further two community buildings - Wallyford Community Centre and Dunbar’s Bleachingfield - will temporarily close or see reduced operation due to an ongoing shortage of essential staff.

But apart from tomorrow (10 December) Port Seton Library will stay open on Fridays while East Lothian Council manages an ongoing shortage of cleaning staff*.

The council is currently facing extreme staffing pressures due to absence levels and a number of key vacancies.

Facilities Management, which provides cleaning services for public buildings across the county, is particularly affected.

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

Key updates:

  • Wallyford Community Centre will close from today and stay closed next week (week commencing 13 December).
  • The Bleachingfield, Dunbar, will be closed next week (week commencing 13 December). The closure also affects the library. However, the after school club based at the building will stay open.
  • Following a review, the council has been able to re-deploy resources to keep Port Seton Library open on Fridays. However, the library will be shut on Friday, 10 December due to a planned one-day closure of the Port Seton Centre. Unfortunately the library will be shut on other days.

Other temporary changes previously announced:

  • John Gray Centre, Haddington – is now closed until 18 December. The closure also affects the library.
  • 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 also affects the library.
  • 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.

The situation will be kept under review and the council will look to reopen facilities as soon as it is practical to do so.

Challenging situation

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

“This is a very challenging and regrettable situation and we are having to take incredibly hard decisions to close or reduce services due to the impact of absences, including as a result of COVID-19 and vacancies, on staffing levels.

“A dynamic and responsive approach is having to be taken to ensure building cleaning and health and safety can be maintained. We have taking actions to re-deploy and move staff around

“The situation will be reviewed on a daily basis with every effort being made, and every option being explored, to return facilities when safe to do so.

“COVID-19 infection levels remain high with the ongoing pandemic continuing to impact on society. We need 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.

“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 sorry that this will impact on planned activities or events in some buildings and will work closely with affected groups. 

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

Published: Thursday, 9th December 2021