Burnmouth 'strewn with human faeces'

Councillor Aileen Orr.Councillor Aileen Orr.
Councillor Aileen Orr.
Human excrement is being strewn around a Berwickshire village which no longer has a public toilet – while some locals have allowed visitors to use their loo.

A public convenience in Burnmouth was lost due to Storm Arwen in November 2021 and villagers and tourists now have nowhere to spend a penny, after a temporary portaloo was removed.

The situation was raised at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council today, Thursday, March 30, as a recommendation was endorsed to retain and improve 27 public toilets and that 14 conveniences shut during the pandemic are not to reopen.

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The situation in Burnmouth has raised public health concerns in the village and further concerns over the impact on working fishermen and tourists to the area.

East Berwickshire councillor Aileen Orr said: “We have had to go out as councillors on the whole of the Berwickshire coastal area looking at human excrement and it is a real serious problem, and it’s not just the excrement, it’s also the toilet paper and the wipes and everything else that does not degrade.

“My concern is with us hoping to have so many tourists coming in and I know one of the problems in Burnmouth is with the 32 fishermen working down there, they don’t have any toilet facilities whatsoever.

“The problem in the case of Burnmouth is that they lost their toilet because it was taken out by a landslip and a portaloo put in its place was then taken away without consultation.”

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Councillor Orr, who backed an unsuccessful amendment calling for a public consultation before a final decision on toilet provision was made, added: “The local people in Burnmouth are taking in people, tourists, to use their own toilets because there are no cafes, there are no hotels.

“I just wonder if we could look at ways, such as composting toilets, as an alternative for those walks on the Berwickshire coast. It is a health risk and it would be good to look at more alternatives.”

John Curry, the council’s director of environment and infrastructure, responded by saying the council could work with the community in Burnmouth and elected members to identify funding streams to help finance a new toilet.

The 14 toilets currently closed will be demolished, sold, leased or become the subject of community asset transfers.

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The council says it is committed to finding a “sustainable solution” for the long term provision of public toilets across the region.

Councillor Euan Jardine, the leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: “As a council we are not flushed with cash, our money from Scottish Government goes go down every year.

“We aren’t the only council to make this decision. South Ayrshire had 29 public toilets in in 2007 and 15 in 2022.

"Where we sit at 27 we are in a position where we are serving all our communities, but remember we have restaurants, cafes, supermarkets etc which people can use.”