Public toilets may be run by private company

Coldstream public toilets
Coldstream public toilets

Local Democracy Reporter

The as-of-yet unnamed business is being consulted after councillors voted to launch a procurement exercise in June this year, to identify potential third party partners who would oversee the design and maintenance of the toilets.

The results of the procurement exercise are due to go before councillors at the end of this month, and it is expected that the report could recommend closing toilets, refurbishment works, changes to the current charging regime, or a mix of all three.

The decision to look into privatising the toilets followed a damning report put to the council in June that showed the decision to charge for using public toilets has netted just a third of the income that Scottish Borders Council had hoped for.

The current 30p charge for using 27 of the council’s public toilets was agreed in February, after officers assured members that charging for toilet provision would generate an income of £280,000 a year. However, by June the estimated yearly income was revised down to £89,000.

Neighbourhood services manager Jason Hedley, said: “What is apparent from financial monitoring is that revenue income received to date is significantly less than the estimated levels that were forecast.

“A significant body of anecdotal evidence around payment avoidance has been received and observed. This centres around tailgating (following the previous paying entrant into the facility), people exiting the facility allowing free access by holding the entry door open and families paying one fee for multiple usage or where people vandalise doors or wedge them open, allowing free access to all.”

At next week’s full council meeting councillors are expected to receive a report on the procurement exercise and officer recommendations on the next course of action for the region’s public toilets.