New approach to be considered for public toilet provision

public toilet women, men and disabled signs

Published: Thursday, 28th June 2018

Councillors have agreed to consider a new approach to public toilet provision in the Scottish Borders.

They approved today the launch of a procurement exercise to identify a potential third party partner to design, operate and manage the network in the area, which currently sits at 41 facilities.

This approach would see all facilities retained for a defined period, while allowing us to review their estate and potentially enhance provision, such as introducing bike wash facilities for the Borders’ expanding cycling tourism industry.

There will also be further engagement with Councillors and communities following today’s report.

Update on Public Toilets Review

Councillors approved a two-phase approach to its review of public toilet provision last year, with the first phase introducing charging to 27 of the 41 public toilets in June 2017, with 14 remaining free of charge.

Last year also saw our cleaning staff pick up a national Loo of the Year award for best Scottish local authority for the maintenance of a series of public toilets across the area. The independent judging panel also carried out assessments of our public toilet estate, with the highly useful information being used as part of our longer term strategy for toilet facilities in the Borders.

Income generated in the first year of charging is estimated to be £89,000, which was lower than the total expected of £268,000, which was based on previous usage.

Issues included tailgating, the ‘Good Samaritan’ leaving the entry door open for others, families paying one fee for usage and anti-social behaviour damaging facilities.

This phase also saw us engage with local communities on potential partnership arrangements with the voluntary and private sector for future toilet provision, with over 30 expressions of interest being received.

Next phase

As was decided last year, the second phase saw a report presented to Councillors today to provide feedback on the first phase and discuss the potential options for the future of public toilets, which is a non-statutory service.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Locality Services

“The first year of the public toilets review has provided the Council with a lot of information for the long-term management of our public toilets, as well as recognition at the Loo of the Year awards in December 2017 for the service provided by members of our staff.

“The option which will now be explored could be an innovative solution which has worked in other areas of the country by providing a variety of benefits, while helping the Council to find out if underused facilities could be used in a better way.

“Early engagement took place with Councillors ahead of this report, and further discussions will take place with Councillors and communities in the next stage of the review. It is worth emphasising that no final decisions have been made.

“In line with the #yourpart campaign, we would ask members of the public using public toilets to play their part and pay for use at any of the 27 toilets which do charge, and generally respect the facilities to help us maintain our network.”

More information

More information on public toilets review is available.

The full Council report is available.

Find out more about the #yourpart campaign.

As well as best Scottish local authority, toilet attendant Douglas Heatlie picked up Scottish public toilet cleaner of the year at the Loo of the Year Awards in December 2017.