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

East Kilbride News - - NEWS - An­drea Lam­brou

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

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