Public toilets

Public toilets review - FAQs

Why are you looking at the current provision of public toilets?

Due to the ongoing pressures on public funding combined with an increase in demand for our services, the financial challenge is going to be with us for several years to come.

This has led us to launch a review of its public toilets across the Borders to see if it can do things differently.

What has been agreed by Councillors?

Phase one will see 27 of the Borders’ public toilets introduce charging for usage.

This phase will also see us engage with Councillors and the community on potential partnership arrangements for future toilet provision, including comfort schemes and community partnerships.

The second phase will see an additional report presented to Councillors later in the year, which will show the results of the engagement and aim to provide a longer term strategy for public toilets in the Borders.

Which toilets now charge?

The following toilets now charge for usage:

  • Coldingham - Coldingham Sands
  • Coldstream - Court House Car Park
  • Duns - Briery Baulk
  • Earlston - Bus Station
  • Eyemouth - Bantry Car Park; Harbour
  • Galashiels - High Street Car Park; Bank Street Gardens; Transport Interchange
  • Hawick - Volunteer Park; Howegate; Common Haugh
  • Innerleithen - Hall Street
  • Jedburgh - Lothian Park; Tourist Information Centre
  • Kelso - Shedden Park; Woodmarket/Horsemarket
  • Lauder - The Avenue
  • Melrose - Abbey Place
  • Newcastleton - Langholm Street
  • Selkirk - Market Place
  • St Abbs - Harbour
  • St Boswells - Main Street
  • Peebles - School Brae; Kingsmeadows; Eastgate Car Park
  • Yarrow Valley - St Mary’s Loch

This list includes toilets which yield the highest annual income against the initial capital investment required.

Which toilets are currently not scheduled to introduce charging?

  • Broughton
  • Burnmouth
  • Chirnside
  • Cockburnspath
  • Denholm
  • Greenlaw
  • Kelso – Croft Road
  • Morebattle
  • Melrose – The Greenyards
  • Newtown St Boswells
  • Selkirk – Scotts Place
  • Stow
  • Town Yetholm
  • West Linton

How often are the toilets cleaned?

Our public toilets are cleaned every day, while toilet roll and paper towels are restocked regularly.

There is now a cleaning regime display board in our toilets which show at what times of the day toilets have been cleaned by our staff.

Are any of your toilets attended?

No, we have no staff based solely at any of our toilets

What is a comfort scheme and community partnership?

A comfort scheme is where a hotel, pub, shop, village hall or public building offers its toilet facilities for the public to use at no cost - regardless of whether they are a customer or not - and receive an annual payment from the Council for doing so.

This has successfully taken place in Eyemouth and in seven other Scottish council areas.

A community partnership is where public toilets are transferred to a community group for it to run. This has successfully taken place in Coldingham and in four other Scottish council areas.

How can I register interest in the comfort scheme or community partnership?

You can contact us to make an initial enquiry or to simply find out more information.

Does the Council work with local communities currently to provide toilet facilities?

Yes, three are in place in Berwickshire. There are two comfort schemes in Eyemouth while a community partnership was carried out in Coldingham, when its toilets were transferred to a community group as part of a project which saw local people create a post office and interpretation centre.

Seven other Scottish councils currently operate successful comfort schemes and four operate community partnerships.

How much is the Council aiming to save from this approach?

A total of £311,000 of savings has been identified from 2016/17 to 2018/19.

How much will you charge for someone to use a public toilet?

It is 30 pence charge per usage. A total of 17 other Scottish councils currently charge for the use of public toilets.

Some of the public toilets in the Borders are in poor condition – is it fair to charge for usage of them?

We have collected data and information from across Scotland, and more than half of the country’s councils charge for the use of their public toilets.

Comfort schemes are also used in seven Scottish council areas and community partnerships run in four Scottish council areas.

We did previously charge for the use of toilets in eight locations in the Borders. However, this ended in 2008.

This approach aims to avoid closure of public toilets, which would be the alternative option if we carried on as we are.

How will money be collected for toilets which are charging for usage?

A cash collection service will be entered into with third parties.

Will you be considering closing public toilets?

We recognise the importance of public toilets to local communities and their environments.

The approach we have taken aims to avoid closure of public toilets, which would be the alternative option if we carried on as we are.

How will engagement with the community take place?

Communities will be vital to the way forward for public toilet provision in the Borders. We will aim to engage with communities alongside local councillors with the aim of setting up a network of comfort schemes and community partnerships.

Do Councils have to provide toilets as part of their duties?

No – public toilet provision is not statutory. However, we recognise the importance of public toilets to our communities which is why we want to work with local communities by setting up partnership arrangements and/or comfort schemes.

There is a major event coming up in our community, is there anyone I can contact to discuss public toilet provision for the day?

Please contact Neighbourhoods Services to discuss – for example we can make sure the public toilets in your community are ready to accommodate more people than usual.

What if I cannot afford to use the toilets?

There are publicly accessible buildings with toilets within communities which you are not required to pay for and could be used.

Is there a fear that people will buy RADAR keys to avoid payment?

A RADAR key allows 24 hour independent access for people with disabilities to around 7,000 fully accessible toilets in the UK.

Anyone seeking to receive a RADAR key should contact Scottish Borders Council’s Customer Services or visit Disability Rights UK website.  

Both require proof of eligibility in order to receive a key.

Further details on the RADAR key is available.

What if there is an issue with the toilets or I become stuck in one?

If you cannot get out of a toilet due to a charging unit not working or other issues, there is a 24 hour phone number for Border Care in the facility.

We will also be providing a simple guide inside the toilets to ensure you can work the new system.