Views sought on upgrading public toilets

Views sought on upgrading public toilets

19 June 2019

RATEPAYERS are to be asked for their views on spending a penny at Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s 31 public toilets.

The local authority has earmarked £1.2m for an overhaul of public toilet provision over the next three years and in addition to asking ratepayers for their views, the organisation has also enlisted the help of the British Toilet Association.

Council chiefs aim to upgrade toilets with the proposed spend coming in the wake of major concerns about toilet provision across the district, especially in the Newcastle area. 

There are consistent complaints about the poor state of the toilets and the opening hours in a busy tourist area.

Members of the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee will be told today that the British Toilet Association (BTA) works with local authorities to discuss standard of toilet provision, strategy and issues related to design, layout, product, service needs, security and maintenance.

BTA representatives have already visited the district’s 31 public toilets and provided council officials with a document which provides a detailed overview of the current standard of each one.

Council officials have already set up a public toilet review working group which will help establish what is being described as a “forward thinking strategy” to provide the best level of services to ratepayers and visitors.

One of the decisions the working group has taken is to ask local people for their views with public consultation taking place during July and August.

Council officials are also in the process of drawing up plans to improve public toilet provision and investigate potential new conveniences.

It was confirmed several months ago that the local authority had allocated £7,000 to secure expert advice from the BTA on what to do with its 31 toilet blocks across the district.

Newcastle and Saintfield have previously already been identified as priority areas with detailed condition surveys ordered of all existing toilets to determine whether the existing structures can be refurbished to an appropriate standard or whether a replacement toilet is required.

Council officials insist the new strategy will assist them in directing staff on how best to use the capital spend to significantly enhance existing public toilet provision across the council area.

Politicians say they recognise that a major capital programme is required to upgrade existing toilets and implement planned improvements, designed to ensure the facilities meet the needs of a wider range of people.

Public toilet provision in rural areas is also expected to be discussed by those in charge of the new strategy. Previously, the case has been made for public toilet provision in Killough and Kilclief.