Friday 07th August 2020,
North Edinburgh Community News

Closed public toilets won’t reopen until October

Public toilets in the Capital that remain closed are not set to reopen until at least October.

Last month, Edinburgh City Council reopened seven of its public toilets – those in Portobello, the Meadows, Princes Street Gardens, Saughton Park, the Bruntsfield Links, Hawes Pier and Cramond.

However, the council says it cannot afford the £152,000 it would cost to reopen its remaining 14 facilities in a covid-secure manner. 

Unless Scottish Government public health guidelines change, the council will wait until at least October before reopening conveniences – including the one in Stockbridge.

Where public conveniences remain closed, council officers suggest using facilities inside private businesses, such as cafés and shops.

Public urination due to a lack of available toilets has been a huge challenge for the city over spring and summer.

To combat this issue the council plans to improve public toilet signage and increase awareness that police can charge £50 on-the-spot fines to people relieving themselves in public.

The council will work with local police to monitor hotspot sites and plan to take action to prevent further problems occurring, including through increasing the 11am – 6pm opening hours of public conveniences.

Adam McVey, Council Leader, said: “As lockdown restrictions have eased considerably there are more and more people out enjoying our beautiful city and so last month we took the decision to reopen seven public toilets on July 13 July in ‘hot spot’ areas near busy parks and beaches following a city-wide review and committee approval.

“Where we have reopened toilets we’ve also extended opening hours where possible during good weather and when there has been a big demand.

“Following committee we’ll look to improve signage to encourage use of those facilities that are open and highlight where facilities haven’t yet reopened. We’ll keep everyone updated as soon as it is possible to reopen all of our toilets safely.

“Until then information on signage, our website and social media will help keep everyone up to date with health and safety measures we’re putting in place and which toilets are open when.”

Liberal Democrat councillor, Hal Osler, said: “I am extremely disappointed by the SNP-Labour administration’s decision not to open the remaining public conveniences.

“This will come as a big blow to members of our communities who require these amenities and shows little empathy also to those residents presently suffering from some very unpleasant ‘surprises’ in their gardens, doorways, alleyways and local parks.

Inverleith Councillor, Hal Osler.

“I was also particularly surprised that having claimed that it was not possible to open these facilities due to the cost of resourcing them, in the next breath the Council Leader and Depute Council Leader suggested that small businesses should provide the facilities instead.

“I worry about the message this sends and the additional cost that this places upon small businesses like coffee shops in areas like Stockbridge who have already paid a huge price due to Covid and are desperately trying to get back on their feet. 

“I really hope that this decision is reconsidered and the council shoulders its own responsibilities.”

Noa Hoffman is the Local Democracy Reporter covering Edinburgh. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency : funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.

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