Public spending a penny costs Falkirk Council £7 a time

The automatic toilet in Polmont Main Street which costs �7 per use to the council
The automatic toilet in Polmont Main Street which costs �7 per use to the council

When can spending a penny cost £7? When it is the council that is footing the bill for the convenience.

Last year, the automatic toilet in Polmont Main Street was used on average just seven times a day, but the facility cost the council £18,000 annually to run.

The local authority has a budget proposal to close almost all public facilities to save £361,00 annually. The money saving scheme caused outcry on the Falkirk Herald Facebook page last week, but council leader Craig Martin said they need to find savings from somewhere.

Councillor Martin said: “The fact is, we need to find £45 million of cuts – do people want toilets or care homes? Toilets or education cuts? The money has to come from somewhere.”

Public toilets in Falkirk are not well used. Even the busiest ones in Glebe Street see on average only 416 visitors per day and cost £55,000 annually and the automatic machines are used even less.

Polmont Main Street is used just 2555 annually, yet costs £18,000 meaning each use costs the council £7.04.

Mr Martin said: “They are just not used enough to justify the price at a time we are cutting jobs and losing services.”

In last week’s Falkirk Herald MSP Michael Matheson criticised the budget proposal, saying every town needs public bathrooms but the council leader said he should look to his party as to why the cuts were needed.

He said: “Why do we have to find these savings? Because the SNP government has reduced our budget. I find it hard to accept his criticism for cutting services when his government is the reason why.”

The local authority is looking at running a comfort scheme and is working with Falkirk BID to find local businesses that could provide the services. No final decisions on the closures will be made until the budget meeting in February 2016.

FOR WEB ONLY:

Toilets that will be affected by budget 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.

Businesses including Asda, Tesco, The Howgate and Callendar Square could provide public bathrooms in the comfort scheme.

The toilets in Blackness Caste at to remain because they are at the end of the John Muir Way and needed for walkers.