Plea to reopen public loos is flushed away

The Wee Gallery in The Knowes car park in Kelso.
The Wee Gallery in The Knowes car park in Kelso.

The local authority will not spend a penny to reopen former public toilets in Kelso’s Knowes car park, community councillors have been warned.

Local community councillor Colin McGrath, speaking at last week’s meeting, said in the wake of the recent closure of the art gallery – known as The Wee Gallery and which was housed in what were public toilets in The Knowes – moves should be made to try and get the building turned back into public toilets.

“I’ve just returned from Turkey where they have phenomenally-good public toilets and it just seems a pity that Kelso cannot have the same quality and quantity of public toilets that Turkey has,” he commented.

However, local Scottish Borders councillor Tom Weatherston said the former toilets in The Knowes had been subject to repeated vandalism, adding: “And it was agreed by this community council it was in the best interests of Kelso to close them.”

Provost John Bassett pointed out even the temporary toilets that had previously been installed in The Knowes had also to be removed because of vandalism, including arson.

Mr Weatherston told councillors that pressures on SBC budgets were also a major factor.

“Not to beat about the bush, there’s about as much chance of getting those toilets reopened as there is of me going to the moon,” he said.

Mr McGrath felt this was “giving into vandalism” when the town needed more public conveniences, but Scottish Borders councillor Alec Nicol added: “We have just got state-of-the-art toilets in the town centre – the most sensible place possible.”

But Mr McGrath’s plea was met with support from several community councillors, including Fiona Scott, who said she appreciated concerns about vandalism and costs.

She went on: “But I still think the toilets should be reopened. When you get service buses stacking up next to the new toilets, you can’t have tour coaches parking there and these tours, which have a lot of elderly passengers, need to have easy access to toilet facilities.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Weatherston told The Southern: “After Kelso getting large sums of funding for the streetscape project and new toilets (in the town centre), a new high school, a new primary school and a new re-cycling centre, I was taken aback when some members of the community council requested we now ask for new toilets in The Knowes.”