Common Sense Must Prevail on Toilets
Over the past few months there has been a growing public campaign against the decision taken by the Highland Council to close public toilets across the area. Scottish Conservative Group Leader Councillor Andrew Jarvie sets out his group’s position and solution.
“Over the last few months it has become increasingly apparent just how ill thought out the proposals are. The communication from the Council on it has been totally absent; just this Monday I found out that the company who maintained the toilets walked away with just two months’ notice and there was a significant cost in transferring the staff over."
“These details are crucial, not only to give us politicians context, but also to explain to communities why things are happening. But, that does not change the fact that the Scottish Conservative Group feel that these closures are excessive; it is our goal to keep as many of these facilities open as possible."
“But it has to be said from the outset that we will not be able to keep them all open. There are some which are in need of significant repairs, which is the equivalent cost of keeping 5 or 6 other facilities open. Another example is Mealmarket Close in Inverness where there are already public facilities nearby."
“I feel that some areas have been unfairly singled out, with huge stretches of prime tourist routes with no facilities for miles upon miles. I do not buy into the idea of communities running toilets, there just isn’t any reward for them. It fundamentally comes down to the fact that Councils and Governments raise taxes, communities don’t."
“Due to the £5m overspend, this will have to be dealt with during the budget period. It will not be easy as we may also have to find twice as much to prevent inevitable closures next year. I have set up a budget team in our group, and this is a priority for us."
“We have had a huge tourist boom, yet we have only seen our budget cut by the Scottish Government. With all the extra income they have had from this tourism, they have to support the Council-run facilities vital for tourism, and I am working with colleagues in Parliament to achieve this."