A DISUSED public toilet could provide the solution to a community’s lack of a bank.
Residents in Juniper Green are hoping to acquire the village loos – which closed in 2015 – under new community right to buy legislation.
If they succeed, the toilets would then be demolished to make way for a new building which they hope could accommodate a community bank combined with a post office.
Last year Royal Bank of Scotland announced its Juniper Green branch would close on June 5. The move was branded a “catastrophe” by locals who said a series of bank closures in Balerno, Currie and Colinton meant theirs was the last bank for miles around.
Juniper Green has also been without a post office for nearly a decade.
But now the community hopes to use the Community Empowerment Act passed by the Scottish Parliament two years ago to create its own solution to the lack of banking facilities.
The plan would see a trust formed to acquire the loos and redevelop the site.
Cliff Beevers, chair of Juniper Green Community Council, said he believed that, although small, the plot of land would be big enough to be serviceable as a combined bank and post office.
“It’s to try and provide an opportunity for older and vulnerable people and the business community who will lose banking facilities when RBS goes,” he said.
A consultation in the village last summer established the importance of over-the-counter services, he added.
“Talking to people about what they wanted – and this was before we knew RBS was closing – what people said was their priority was a post office. A post office provides a hub in a community, which will be missed even more when RBS closes.”
The community council is to host a public meeting on Wednesday, May 31 at 8pm in Juniper Green Village Hall to look at what happens once the bank closes.
Lothian Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst said: “Community activists have been working tirelessly to find an alternative to the imminent closure of the RBS branch.
“The Scottish Government has highlighted the credit union model as a potential replacement service for people in communities affected by closures and so the campaign group has been looking at this with existing institutions.
“Now we need to know whether this is a model that would be used by local people, which would be needed for it to be a success.”
Ahead of the public meeting there is a special meeting for businesses in Juniper Green, Balerno, Colinton and Currie, to engage in the process. It will be on Tuesday, May 23 at 7pm at 589 Lanark Road. Interested business people are asked to first call Mark Porteous on 0131-453 4535.