Shire loos may face closure

Public toilets
Public toilets

A new approach to the ongoing provision of public toilets in Aberdeenshire that aims to reduce costs, increase links with communities and standardise opening hours is to take effect this summer.

Aberdeenshire Council currently operates 81 public conveniences; the second highest number for any Scottish local authority.

Maintaining so many toilets is a significant commitment for the council against a backdrop of ever-tighter budgets, costing almost a million pounds a year but leaving little scope for investment.

To allow the council to maintain access to public toilets and to raise standards, the authority’s Public Convenience Strategy was updated earlier this year.

The strategy aims to reduce costs by around a third while maintaining access to the majority of existing facilities, and identifying alternative local provision where toilets are to be closed.

Facilities in New Deer (Main Street) and Collieston (Low Town) may be closed but it is hoped that an alternative local partnership might be found.

Funding has been identified to refurbish public toilets in Mintlaw and options are currently under consideration.

The review also took account of a number of sites that had particularly low use or are in poor condition, where refurbishment costs would be prohibitive and as a result, the toilets on Hatton’s Station Road will be closed.

The council currently operates a number of ‘comfort partnerships’, whereby local businesses or facilities make their own toilet facilities available for use by the public for free.

Participating property owners are given a small payment by the council for this purpose.

The council hopes to extend the network of these partnerships and would be keen to hear from anybody who may be interested in forming one for the benefit of their local community.

Individuals or community groups wishing to explore the possibility of establishing a ‘comfort partnership’ for the provision of local toilets should contact andrew.meechan@aberdeenshire.gov.uk for more information.

Further details and timescales for any closures will be announced in due course, subject to further discussion with interested parties and committee decisions where required.