With a budget proposal to close almost all public toilets, where would visitors go to spend a penny?
In order to make £45 million in savings, Falkirk Council is looking at cost cutting with one proposal to close all toilets, with the exception of Blackness.
This would mean the only permanent public loos in Falkirk, in Glebe Street, would close along with facilities in Denny, Bonnybridge, Bo’ness and Polmont.
The plans would save a total of £361,000 annually – much needed savings at a time the local authority is facing 700 jobs loses and a huge reduction of services to save money.
However, taxi driver Catherine Gray says the loss of public toilets would be an unacceptable move by the council and has started an online petition to save the Glebe Street loos.
Catherine, from Denny, said: “I think it’s totally shocking to suggest not having a single public toilet in Falkirk – where are people supposed to go?
“I’m a taxi driver and am at the rank outside the Glebe Street toilets a lot, it’s where all the drivers go. What are we supposed to do? Many businesses don’t let you use the toilet if you’re not buying anything so it’s putting us in an awkward position.”
Catherine has been talking to her customers about the proposal and says the reaction has been of disbelief.
She said: “Falkirk has boosted tourism in recent years with the Wheel and Helix, so we are encouraging people into the town at the same time as closing all the public toilets.
The toilets at Callendar Park and the Helix would remain but business owners feel it will be down to them to provide a public convenience for people out and about in town.
Alex Fleming from Falkirk BID said they had met with the council in regards to the proposal to make suggestions on where people could go if public toilets were to close.
Alex said: “We suggested they talk to Asda, Callendar Square and the Howgate who may be happy to allow their toilets to be used and benefit from the extra footfall.”
Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said he has had local people and businesses contact him over the proposal.
Mr Matheson said: “To my knowledge, this would make Falkirk the first council in Scotland not to offer public toilets. I hope it takes on the concerns of local people, this is a service they cannot do without.
“It is not up to local businesses to meet the demand.”
Readers took to The Falkirk Herald Facebook page to vent their anger over the proposal.
Lana Cairns said: “Sounds like a good idea. An even better idea would be to build the new council HQ without installing toilets.”
Caroline Wright said: “This is a crazy idea as people will go behind bushes and then risk being fined if they being caught.”
A spokesperson for the local authority said: “Falkirk Council has to make savings of £45 million over the next three years.
“Delivering savings of this scale means the council will need to reduce the services it provides to the public. Full details of the savings options being considered have been published on the council’s website.
“Before any final decisions are made, savings proposals will be reviewed to see how they might affect service users, particularly those more vulnerable. No final decisions will be made until the budget meeting in February 2016.”
Toilets that would close in the proposal
Glebe Street, Falkirk; York Lane, Grangemouth: Register Street, Bo’ness: Church Walk, Denny,
Automatic toilets at Main Street, Camelon; Main Steet, Polmont; Union Road, Grangemouth; York Lane, Grangemouth; Falkirk Bus Station; Bonnybridge High Street; Stirling Street, Denny; East Pier Street Bus Station, Bo’ness; Provost Road, Bo’ness
Falkirk Community Trust toilets at The Helix and Callendar Park would remain.
You can sign Catherine’s petition here