20 DOWN THE PAN Nowhere to spend a penny as councils pull plug on loos
Study reveals there is only one public toilet left in Lanarkshire
Visitors to East Kilbride and Avondale could be caught short when looking to spend a penny.
Public toilet provision has been going down the pan for a number of years – and Lanarkshire no longer has any standalone council-run loos.
In the last decade, the council has stopped maintaining 19 public conveniences.
And the local authority has flushed away any chance that they may reopen in the future.
A phased closure of public toilets was part of a cutbacks programme and has achieved an annual saving of £566,000.
The last remaining lavvy in Lanarkshire is maintained by North Lanarkshire Council at Brandon Parade South, Motherwell.
The authority has also seen a decline in the number of public toilets, with a reduction of two since 2010.
And the council told the News previously that public loos were regularly damaged and misused, with some often used for illicit drug-taking. Alistair McKinnon, the council’s head of facilities, waste and grounds services, said: “The council has had to achieve significant levels of saving over recent years which has resulted in difficult choices having to be made, as part of the efficiency programme the decision was taken to close public toilet facilities.
“The phased closure of the public toilets has contributed an annual saving of £566,000 towards the council’s efficiency programme.
“We worked closely with a number of local groups who approached the council to enquire about alternative arrangements for operating these facilities. This resulted in the successful transfer of public toilets in Biggar and in Larkhall.”
Local authorities are not legally required to provide toilets, meaning they are often closed as councils look to cut costs.
At least 673 public toilets across the UK have stopped being maintained by major councils (unitary, borough, district and city) since 2010, according to figures obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.
Data supplied by 376 of the 430 councils contacted showed that :
UK councils stopped maintaining around 13 per cent of public toilets between 2010 and 2018;
In 2018 there were 4486 toilets run by major councils in the UK, down from 5,159 in 2010;
In 37 areas, major councils no longer run any public conveniences;
In Scotland, Highland Council maintains most public toilets (92).
Raymond Martin, of the British Toilet Association, said that providing toilets was a public health issue – but that it is also about equality and social inclusion.
He believes that, while councils have no legal requirement to provide access to public toilets, they do have a “moral responsibility”.
Flushed awayThe public loos in Strathaven were closed three years ago