Last night I went along to the Turriff Business Association for their AGM. During the meeting the ongoing issue of the Haughs toilets being closed came up, I spent some time talking about the current situation and what I think could be possible options. Below is a combination of my notes and thoughts on the situation.
Aberdeenshire Council have made it clear that there is only funding for one set of public toilets in Turriff and have deemed that the High Street facilities are the ones they will be keeping open. As part of the budget cuts, the attendants have also been removed from the High Street toilets along with the 20p use charge.
Aberdeenshire Council have said that there will be no comfort partnership in Turriff. A comfort partnership is where the local authority pay an amount each year for businesses in an area to open up their toilets to the public. The rationale behind there being no offer of a comfort partnership is that there are a number of shops in the town that already offer toilet facilities.
The closure of the toilets at the Haughs is, in my opinion, foolhardy and potentially devastating to any planned redevelopment plans that are being made.
As it stands the toilets at the Haughs are closed, it is a done deal. The thing that worries me is, Aberdeenshire Council are working with a steering group to redevelop the Haughs but they are working to a plan that may take some years to come to fruition. In this time, the toilets will fall into disrepair through lack of use and ongoing maintenance, so that when the time comes for someone to take them on and open them again, they will be beyond viable and economical renovation.
Having spoken to officers from Aberdeenshire Council, the potential dilapidation of the toilets at the Haughs are not lost on them, but budgets are budgets and there is only money for one set of facilities.
Having public toilets open at the Haughs is vital to any ongoing development plans there may be, but these will not be run by Aberdeenshire Council, or certainly not while they are running the High Street toilets.
Aberdeenshire Council have provided some figures for the running costs of both facilities which I have added below.
Notes on these figures:
|N812006 - Turriff, High Street|
|1012||Water Rates or Metered||295.04||265.48|
|1472||Contributions to the Repairs and Maintenance Account||1,480.00||0.00|
|2061||Rental of Hygiene Equipment||42.75||0.00|
|2521||Rental of Equipment||0.00||43.52|
|3615||Telephones - General||228.91||192.42|
|3680||Advertising - General||95.00||99.00|
|6303||Admission Charges Other||-3,921.82||-4,180.57|
|N812009 - Turriff, The Haughs|
|1012||Water Rates or Metered||460.86||487.33|
|1311||Energy Conservation Measures||200.00||0.00|
|1472||Contributions to the Repairs and Maintenance Account||1,480.00||1,480.00|
|2061||Rental of Hygiene Equipment||35.70|
|2521||Rental of Equipment||0.00||55.94|
|3615||Telephones - General||0.00||0.00|
|3680||Advertising - General||0.00||0.00|
|6303||Admission Charges Other||0.00||0.00|
So what do we do to keep the toilets open at the Haughs?
Here are a few options I've come up with, I'm sure there are any number of permutations about which groups could work with each other to keep a second set of toilets in Turriff.
Option 1, is the ideal solution, the Haughs redevelopment group or whatever it may be called, take on the toilets and run them. Unfortunately I think it will some time before any such group will be in place and able to do this. A quick fix could be that the Community Council, Turriff Business Association, Turriff Show and Turriff Caravan Park come together to form a management group who would take on the running of the facilities until such a time as the Haughs redevelopment group were in a position to take over the running.
Option 2, could Turriff Show or Turriff Caravan Park take on the toilets, both organisations have a vested interest in the Haughs. Could the two, or more, groups work together to have the toilets open?
Option, 3, speaking to Aberdeenshire Council officers, they were not be adverse to the suggestion of swapping which toilets are open and run by the council, and if Turriff and District Community Council were to ask, they could look on this favourably. However, it could mean that there are no public toilets in Turriff town center, for a while at least, but would keep the toilets at the Haughs open by Aberdeenshire Council and they would become a 52 week a year facility rather than the current seasonal arrangement. Could groups like Turriff Business Association the Community Council and the new owners of the former municipal buildings, which the toilets are attached to, look at taking on the running of the toilets? Historically people have been happy to pay a 20p per use charge, could this be reinstated to help fund the running of the toilets? According to figures provided by Aberdeenshire Council the income from the 20p use charge on High Street generated around £4,000 a year.
A possible future risk with Option 3 is, what happens if Aberdeenshire Council need to cut some more of the budget and moves the Haughs back to a seasonal facility.
None of the options are ideal and with 1 & 2 there is no obvious way that I can see to fund them, at least option 3 could generate some income to support the upkeep and management.
With all the options, someone would need to be involved in opening, closing and cleaning the toilets, whichever set they are.
This is not a decision to be taken lightly and would need to have some consultation with the community and local businesses businesses along with any groups who could potentially be involved in the running of the facilities.
Feel free to leave suggestions and your thoughts below, or contact me here or by other various means, to discuss further.