Comment: We have to provide most basic facilities

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PLACES to spend a penny are often the first target when the city council is looking to save some pennies.

We have already highlighted the appalling state of many of Edinburgh’s public conveniences and the poor impression they give to visitors in particular.

Today, we have news of automatic toilets being cut across Edinburgh, including in high footfall areas like St Andrew Square, 
Portobello and the Grassmarket.

The alternative proposed in the Square – “use the bus station” – doesn’t really seem like an attractive suggestion, we know only too well about the state of the Porty toilet block, while the Grassmarket appears to have no alternative provision at all (apart from the obvious which would attract the attention of the police).

For tourists visiting Edinburgh who are used to public conveniences being, er, convenient, this situation will seem absolutely laughable.

If Edinburgh wants to be taken seriously as a world tourism capital then we have to provide the most basic facilities.

The revamp of St Andrew Square looks fantastic, the city centre in the main is looking great.

What a shame to spoil this by taking away facilities like these.

Many residents may not use the public toilets regularly and will therefore perhaps not see the big issue here.

The issue is the impression it creates.

Edinburgh’s tourism industry, as businesses in the city centre will need no reminding, is vital to the economy.

Surely we can do better than sending visitors down to the bus station or towards local businesses to use the loo. It is not, after all, as if these facilities were being provided for free.

Yes, it may require initial investment and, yes, money is tight but in the long run it may be a small price to pay.