Scottish Borders Council urged to spend the pennies and reopen public loos
Calls have been made for Scottish Borders Council to review its decision not to reopen all public toilets in the region “as a matter of urgency”.
Having closed public conveniences during the first lockdown in 2020, the local authority reopened 16 of its toilet blocks – including Duns, Coldstream, Eyemouth and St Abbs – last August.
However it said it would not open others elsewhere, citing the enhanced management and cleaning regimes required, with the loos in Greenlaw, Cockburnspath, Chirnside and Burnmouth among those that have remained closed.
Residents in rural communities have raised concerns about the lack of facilities given the increasing number of visitors to the area, with some claiming they’ve seen people going to the toilet in inappropriate places due to a lack of alternatives.
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale SNP MSP Christine Grahame said this week that the facilities could be back up and running for an extra £2,000 per year, with the council putting the annual cost of keeping toilets open including extra cleaning at £12,000 per year, compared to £10,000 pre-covid.
The SNP group at the council has called on the Tory-led administration to use money from its £500k Build Back a Better Borders community grant scheme to ensure that toilets on key tourist routes remain open.
Rejecting that proposal, the council said local communities could apply for the grant and run the toilets themselves.
But Ms Grahame said that suggestion “smacks of the council trying to offload them and privatisation by another route”.
She added: “These facilities are vital, particularly as more people are out and about and particularly in more rural areas where there’s a lack of alternative facilities that might exist in larger towns.
“Running public facilities such as these seems to me to be a basic requirement of local government.
"I find it astounding therefore that the extra £2k per toilet can’t be found, but meanwhile £500k can be put towards a ‘Build Back Better’ fund with somewhat vague goals, let alone the millions spent speculatively on the Lowood Estate purchase.
"If the facilities are needed, which they are, they should be funded.”