THE city council plans to save £300,000 by making it more difficult for members of the public to spend a penny.
Ten public toilets across the Capital will be closed within weeks, with potentially uncomfortable consequences for residents and visitors alike.
Some may be unmoved by this development – public toilets can be pretty unappealing places – but others will recognise this as another vital service lost.
Edinburgh is a major international city, which depends in great part on a successful tourist industry. Surely being good hosts requires us to offer at least some comforts to those who help boost our local economy?
There is some hope for those who might have the misfortune to be caught short on the city streets. Lothian Buses may lease – for the use of drivers – the facilities which are earmarked for closure and then make them available for public use during major sporting or entertainment events.
That Lothian Buses is considering this leasing plan makes the point that these facilities are essential rather well: if drivers need them, then so might anyone else.
Some local businesses have expressed an interest in signing up to a scheme which would see them receive a fee of £500 per year for opening their toilets to the public.
It is certainly to be hoped that alternative arrangements can be found. When you have to go, you have to go, and the closure of public loos won’t change that reality.
It has to be said that the proposal to have businesses open their toilets to the public represents a gamble. We cannot be sure that those companies which sign up will still consider it a good idea in the longer term. A steady stream of punters traipsing in to use the toilets may soon become wearing and some of those that sign up initially may drop out, in time.
What is certain is that these public loos are soon to be no more, and it will take time to flush out the implications.