We reported on the "absolutely disgusting" closure of a creche five years ago this week.

Mothers say they feel like the "heart has been ripped out" of their area after a leisure centre's creche was officially closed.

Epping Forest District Council's agreed it could not afford to subsidise Loughton Leisure Centre's well-loved nursery at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, after it shut six weeks ago.

Places for People were awarded a 20-year-contract to run the centre, but despite promising that "nothing would change", said it could not keep the creche running.

Miriam Kerr, who uses the centre and has become friends with the mums who rely on it, branded the decision as "sad" and feels like it was already a done deal.

She said: "I'm really disappointed. This is absolutely disgusting. I feel as though the heart of the leisure centre has been ripped out.

"A lot of mums aren't coming any more and they are really upset. One mum has a young son and a newborn but is no longer able to come to the classes.

"Numbers have fallen and I fear they will close some of the classes altogether if not enough people come in January."

She also lamented the loss of the cafe, well-used by elderly people as a social hub.

"It was a magnet for people in their 60s but they are not there anymore," she added. "They used to come and meet, have their tea and toast, but now they can't."

During a lengthy debate at the civic offices last Tuesday, councillors recognised the "tough" times the authority is facing.

Cllr Helen Kane said: "By looking at the figures, there's no justification for the provision of the creche, especially when there are only around seven people who use it per day."

It would cost £325,000 to extend the building to create a new creche and an extra £25,000 per year for staffing costs.

Alternative measures were suggested, including using Loughton Library to provide creche facilities instead.

But these were deemed unacceptable because of the distance between the two.

"It's not right to separate the kids from their parents," Cllr Kane added.

Cllr Alan Lyon weighed in, saying: "I do have sympathy for the mums using the centre, my own daughter had post-natal depression and the creche is not a bad idea.

"But financial situation doesn't support that activity."

Cllr Anne Grigg added: "The council has no requirement to provide the creche. I understand it's valued and people have been very fortunate. However it's regrettable, but I don't see it as one of our top priorities."

Leader Chris Whitbred pointed out how we have to strike a "fine balance" and remember the money belongs to all residents.

Councillors agreed not to subsidise the creche.

However, they did agree to support improvements to changing facilities at a cost of £324,000.