Spending a penny in Borders’ public toilets could soon cost 30p

The public toilets at Hawick's Common Haugh car park.
The public toilets at Hawick's Common Haugh car park.

Teries could soon face forking out 30p to spend a penny while out and about.

Proposals are to be considered next week to introduce a charge for using the 40 council-run public conveniences across the Borders, four of them in Hawick.

The public conveniences at Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick.

The public conveniences at Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee will consider approving the proposed charge when they meet on Tuesday.

If the plan goes ahead, it is estimated that the initiative could add in the region of £311,000 a year to the council’s coffers, with 24,848 visits being paid to the existing facilities every week.

The move would also bring the cash-strapped council’s policy in line with those of the majority of local authorities across the country.

As well as the four public toilets in Hawick – at the Common Haugh car park, Howegate, Volunteer Park and Wilton Lodge Park – the move affects the conveniences in Dean Road, Denholm and Langholm Street at Newcastleton.

It is being recommended that councillors support a two-phased approach to fee charges.

As part of phase one, just over half of the Borders public toilets would introduce charging for usage.

The move has received a generally positive response from three of the town’s councillors, with some reservations.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Ron Smith, the council’s executive member for planning and environment, said: “30p might not be the easiest amount to levy because of the number of coins required, but the principle of charging is acceptable to me.

“It tends to lead to cleaner, better-kept toilets, and expectations are rising in this regard because of the example set elsewhere.”

Fellow ward councillor Davie Paterson agreed, saying: “We are estimating that we will raise approximately £211,000 in phase one and a further saving of £100,000 in phase two.

“With the 30p for usage, it is hoped that the best-used toilets will hopefully go some way to keeping open the lesser-used toilets.

“We are left with little choice but to charge for these toilets.

“There are six other Scottish councils that charge 30p for toilet usage.

“Scottish Borders Council has collected data from across Scotland, and more than half of the country’s councils charge for the use of their public toilets.

Hawick and Hermitage’s other councillor, George Turnbull, added: “With greater than ever financial pressures being placed on local councils, it comes as no surprise that the council is looking at all aspects of revenue income.

“There has been a continual review of the usage of public conveniences over the last few years, and some will eventually close as they either become old or too expensive to refurbish and, like other councils, they will be forced to look at businesses that are willing to work in partnership with the council and provide access to the public to use toilet facilities within commercial premises.

“It is certainly a sign of the times that we live in as local councils, and in particular Scottish Borders Council, are being forced to review all the front-line services that they provide for locals and visitors alike.”

The executive committee is to meet on Tuesday from 10am at the council’s headquarters at Newtown.

In February last year, the council approved savings of £70,000 in 2016-17 and a further £141,000 in 2017-18 specifically in relation to the provision of public toilets.