RESIDENTS are to launch a campaign to save public toilets which opened just eight years ago but are now earmarked for closure.
The loos in Colinton are included on a hit list drawn up by council officials as part of controversial budget cuts.
A total of 16 public conveniences across the Capital would close permanently to save £250,000, leaving just two – at Cramond and Pipe Lane, Portobello – which would open in the summer for beach-goers.
But the Colinton toilets were built in 2009 to replace older toilets in what had originally been a tram ticket office. The old building was incorporated into a new housing development and the builders provided the new toilets nearby.
They opened the following year after a dispute between the builders and the council was resolved.
Tom McDonald, chair of Colinton community council, said: “We found it rather surprising they would consider closure – they’re not very old, which means the cost of maintenance must be pretty minimal. Even if there is a budgetary justification, we think this must be an exception in that it can’t be in poor repair.”
He said Colinton had a large number of elderly residents who were glad to have the toilets available. They were also used by visitors to Colinton Dell and by many bus drivers in view of the nearby terminus for the No 16 service.
Eddie Banks from the Colinton amenity association said public toilets were an essential facility.
He said the Colinton loos were built to the latest standard, able to take wheelchairs and close to the shops and three care homes.
“They’re clean; we’ve checked with the local police and there has been no crime in or around these toilets; there’s no graffiti.
“I can understand the council has budget problems and needs to find money, but I think we’re doing the wrong thing in closing toilets.
“For our dignity and the freedom to move with some assurance for both young and old, resident or visitor, retaining the public toilet is surely more important than the saving of a few pennies.”
Colinton Councillor Jason Rust asked people to send back a slip from his newsletter if they opposed closure of the loos – and over 300 slips were returned. He said: “The local community is very clear that the public conveniences in Colinton should be kept open. These facilities are well used by local residents, trades people, hillwalkers, bus drivers and others. I have been inundated with responses from local residents angry that closure is even on the council’s agenda.
“There is no history of crime or vandalism related issues and it is only eight or nine years ago that we fought to get the new toilets open.”
The Evening News revealed in September the closure of public toilets was among proposals drawn up for councillors to consider for next year’s budget. A council spokeswoman said: “The council will publish budget proposals early in the New Year.”