Edinburgh could risk losing up to £270,000 a year in docking fees if the city does not “up its game” and improve lacklustre toilet facilities for cruise passengers at South Queensferry, critics have warned.
The authority’s last ever north west locality committee discussed the toilet provision at Hawes Pier in South Queensferry, with ward councillors raising concerns that the toilets are not fit for purpose.
A report to councillors highlights that Hawes Pier generated £268,000 in the 2017/18 financial year for the council through docking fees.
Conservative ward Cllr Graham Hutchison told officers that other ports around the Forth will become more attractive destinations if the facilities for passengers are not improved.
He said: “Obviously it’s a facility for the community but it’s also a facility for the cruise liner passengers which are coming in. That’s bringing in revenue to the city and there’s huge potential for growth.
“Fife Council is looking at major investment in Burntisland, there’s huge facilities at Rosyth. If we don’t up our game here, we are going to lose that revenue that we are getting from cruise ship passengers. It’s not good enough.
“As a council, we look amateurish when it comes to dealing with cruise ship passengers. The possibility of installing two automated public toilets to deal with 1,500 or more people coming off a cruise ship is frankly laughable. I think we need to do better.”
The last condition inspection in 2015 revealed that work costing around £21,000 for the male toilets is needed, including the roof. This work would not address “the facilities being unsuitable for disabled use” and officers highlighted that the facilities are “subject to occasional sea flooding”. Work needed to improve the female toilets is estimated to cost around £52,000.
The council has agreed to reorganise staffing arrangements for cleaning public toilets across the city in a bid to save £250,000 from this year’s budget.
Liberal Democrat ward Cllr Kevin Lang, said: “The state of the Hawes Pier toilets is nothing short of a disgrace. I am embarrassed to think about the impression they give to people visiting Queensferry, an area we should take pride in as a world heritage site. For people arriving from cruise liner visits, the toilets can be their first experience of Scotland. It’s utterly shameful.
“After all this time, there is still no clear plan to renovate and upgrade the toilets, despite the huge sums raised by the council from cruise liner visits each year. Even worse has been the decision of SNP councillors to actually cut the council’s budget for public toilets. This risks making a bad situation worse.”
All public toilets in the Capital are set to be surveyed during May and June.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, the council’s transport and environment convener, said: “Queensferry has been a popular destination for many years as people love to see the iconic Forth Bridges up close and we of course appreciate the concerns over the maintenance of the public toilet there. City-wide, we are investigating all available options to improve the provision of public conveniences.”