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14 Moray toilets axed by the council

By Alistair Whitfield

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MOST of Moray’s public toilets will close at the end of September – unless the public agrees to take them over.

The toilet in Elgin's Cooper Park is amongst the 14 to be axed
The toilet in Elgin's Cooper Park is amongst the 14 to be axed

A proposal put forward behind closed doors this week by Moray Council's SNP administration would see the local authority shut 14 of its remaining facilities after the summer season.

Among those facing the axe include Elgin’s Cooper Park, Forres’ Grant Park, the Esplanade in Lossiemouth and the Old Station at Ballindalloch.

The only toilets safe under the proposals are beside the harbours at Buckie, Burghead, Cullen, Hopeman, Portknockie and Findhorn, as they are partly covered by harbour fees.

The proposal, which went before the full council on Wednesday and was voted through 12-10, will save £63,000 over the next two years.

Following the meeting there was severe criticism from certain quarters.

Councillor Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) said: “While I accept councils have to modernise and transform the way we deliver services, we should also accept there are some basic essential services that we simply have to provide.

“The council’s comfort scheme provides access to toilets inside shops and other buildings, but this is only useful in certain areas.

“Sometimes it feels like Moray is sliding into an ever deeper black hole.

“I cannot see how any councillor can argue that closing toilets or stopping grass cutting is a good thing. The only reason it is being done is because councils are being forced into making such bad decisions.”

Also voicing strong opposition, Cllr Derek Ross (Speyside Glenlivet, Independent) said: “What we are seeing is a typical slash and burn cut.

“The toilets should remain open and further discussions should be held with the new tourism body in Moray as well as with communities.

“We should look at external funding opportunities and charge for some toilets.

“Under these proposals the Speyside Way – a popular walk for locals and tourists – will now not be covered by public toilets. Where do the SNP councillors expect people to go?

“As a tourist area we should be opening facilities, not closing them.”

Council leader Graham Leadbitter, (Elgin North/ SNP) urged communities to follow the example of the already successful community-operated public toilets elsewhere in Moray.

He said: “Growing pressures in areas such as child protection and social care mean that the council is having to prioritise its spending in different ways.

“That has meant some challenging decisions for councillors, including the need to close toilets.

“There has been some great support from communities taking on toilet facilities, such as Lossiemouth, Craigellachie and Cullen.

“With continued community support, alongside the recent launch of our comfort scheme, toilet provision will still be accessible for residents and visitors.”

The toilets that will shut are: Newlands Lane, Buckie; Seaview Road, Cummingston; Albert Place, Dufftown; Cooper Park, Elgin; West Dunes (North), Findhorn; Grant Park, Forres; Old Station, Ballindalloch; Tomnabat Lane, Tomintoul; Spey Street, Garmouth; Regent Square, Keith; East Street, Fochabers; Esplanade, Lossiemouth; Victoria Road, Craigellachiel and New Street, Rothes.

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