Request to SBC on Kelso toilets

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Kelso Community Council is to request that no decision is made on the former public toilets in the Knowes car park until after the summer.

Members this week agreed to ask Scottish Borders Council to hold off making any decision on the future of its now unused building, which until recently was used as an art gallery.

Competing interests have emerged with some in favour of the building being converted back into public toilets which they say the town badly needs, despite the recent opening of modern toilets as part of the town centre revamp.

There are concerns tourist coaches will struggle to drop off passengers in the middle of town given traffic constraints and that toilets at The Knowes, where there is coach parking, would be better.

However, there is also some support for the property to be used as a small museum, which would be an asset the town could benefit from.

Backing a return to use as toilets, Councillor Colin McGrath said it would not be technically difficult: “All the infrastructure for its use as toilets is still there, so it wouldn’t be expensive to make it back into toilets.”

But Councillor Tom Weatherston, who has previously warned SBC has no funds for reopening toilets, told the meeting: “There’s ample room for tourist coaches to pull up outside the Black Swan [hotel] and drop people off and then park in The Knowes.

“I think it’s really pushing it to expect another set of new toilets at The Knowes.”

Fellow SBC councillor Alec Nicol also flagged up previous vandalism when the building was used as toilets, but Councillor Fiona Scott pointed out that, until summer was past, it was impossible to gauge how the new town centre lay-out would cope with the annual influx of visitors.

“We could be faced with coaches backing up into Woodmarket – we just don’t know yet. So, there should be some kind of hold on that facility being made available until we see how things go with visitor numbers and increased traffic in the summer.”

Councillors agreed and her suggestion coach companies should be canvassed for their views also saw approval for a questionnaire to gather evidence on such topics from various companies, organisations and individuals.