Cllrs have agreed a plan to install temporary public toilets in busy parks and other ‘hotspot’ areas like the Meadows and Portobello on the understanding that funding is approved by Council next week.
This will help to meet increased demand over the summer months as more people enjoy the outdoors in the warmer weather as the city eases out of lockdown.
An additional £450,000 from COVID funds, if approved, will fund the project. A list of the exact locations for the toilets is being compiled and will be publicised so people know where they are when complete. The project will ensure toilets provided also meet accessibility needs.
A plan for new and improved permanent public toilets across the Capital, following a review of existing facilities, was also approved by members of the Transport and Environment Committee, on the basis that funding can be identified.
The plan is to build new public toilets in popular parks such as Inverleith and Leith Links and in premier parks where provision already exists the toilets will be upgraded to meet modern hygiene standards. Consultation will also be carried out with community groups in these and other areas such as Colinton, where the community may already be progressing their own projects.
The plan also includes more modern facilities being built in local town centres as part of the development of new Council hubs. The review found providing purpose-built toilet blocks with small cafes in local town centres would provide unnecessary additional competition to local businesses and so councillors have approved new facilities being provided in the multi-service ‘hubs’ being created as part of the ‘20 minute’ neighbourhood approach. This will be particularly beneficial to disabled and elderly residents looking to access Council services.
Improved signage to major travel hubs, which all have public toilets, is also being considered as part of the plans.
The community toilets scheme will also continue when COVID guidance allows and communications will be improved to make sure people know where they are.
In the longer-term, payment to businesses to open their toilets for general public use will be phased out as provision across the city improves.
There are currently seven public toilets open at busy ‘hot spots’ and reopening the Council’s other permanent facilities will remain under review and they will reopen when practicable and when public health guidance allows.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Environment Convener, said:
As we ease out of lockdown over the next few months outdoor recreation and meetings will become even more important for people, particularly during spells of warmer weather.
We recognise that an increased number of public toilets is going to be needed to allow residents and visitors to stay longer to enjoy our beautiful parks, beaches and other open spaces. There have been reports of people toileting in and around these areas and I really hope that providing additional temporary facilities, if funding is approved, helps to put a stop to that.
Cllr Karen Doran, Environment Vice-Convener, said:
We’re very proud of our beautiful parks and beaches, which are particularly busy during periods of warmer weather and I’m really pleased we’ve managed to find funding which now just needs to be approved to help ease the situation with more people meeting and exercising outdoors. To make our stunning city even more welcoming and accessible going foward, we’ll try to find the funding we need to allow us to initially focus on improving facilities in premier parks on a permanent basis.
We’re already planning for ‘hubs’ in our town centres as part of ’20 minute communities’ and accessible, clean modern toilets as part of these ‘hubs’ is the best solution for local provision going forward.