Concern that Covid closed toilets won't re-open due to council not 'spending a penny'

The engaged latch on public loos could soon slide to vacant, with plans to re-open toilets in the Borders.

By Hilary Scott
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 4:17 pm
Peebles East Station toilets set to re-open in March
Peebles East Station toilets set to re-open in March

Peebles Community Council considered raising a petition with the Scottish Parliament regarding public toilet closures, which are seeing locals and visitors in the town being caught short.

Many public toilets in the Borders have remained closed throughout the pandemic due to strict cleanliness requirements, which increased the costs of keeping them open.

In Peebles, public toilets in Kingsmeadows Car Park and Haylodge Park, are both open.

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Tweeddale Councillor Robin Tatler, informed Peebles Community Council that he was pushing to get the East Station facilities re-opened, and this will possibly happen in March.

But the Covid loo crisis has left some people reeling, as community councillor Allan Mackenzie explained: “I was working down from the School Brae, and an elderly gentlemen used some explicits about Scottish Borders Council having signage directing him to the toilets that were closed. I think it would be a wise idea to blind them off.”

However, the promise of locals and tourists being able to answer nature’s call in March, is too long to wait, according to one community councillor.

“I think we need something sooner than that,” said George Ramsay. “Peebles has a lot of visitors at this time year, so where are they going to the toilet? If we can’t get them open in March, what’s the next stage?

Tweeddale Councillor Stuart Bell, who is chair of the council’s petitions committee, said that the toilets in West Linton were opened on recommendation from its members.

He warned the community council that raising a petition through Holyrood would be a lengthy process.

He added: “I’m concerned that we put this into context. Much as there has been challenges in terms of the amount of resources that SBC has been prepared to put into the provision of public toilets, there has never been a suggestion that the toilets the town currently has, would be closed. The reason the toilets in School Brae and East Station are closed, is because of Covid.”

“Let me remind you that the cleanliness requirements significantly increased the costs of keeping the toilets open, and I don’t think there is an intention to having anything other than the coverage of toilets that the town has been used to.”

Acknowledging that there is a degree of concern surrounding public toilets, Councillor Bell urged people “not to blow the issue up”.

With Covid restrictions easing, he said: “I would be surprised if we are not seeing the number of toilets in the town that were there previously, and I can see Robin [Tatler] nodding. So I imagine it’s going to be in the administration’s draft budget, Robin?

Councillor Tatler replied: “No comment.”