A FORMER MP’s bid to lead a community buy-out of old public toilets has been scuppered – because the city council has already sold them without consulting local residents. The loos on St John’s Road, Corstorphine, were closed two years ago despite protests at the time.
John Barrett, who was Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West for nine years before stepping down in 2010, got strong support when he suggested the buy-out on social media last week – but he found out he was too late.
He said: “The other day I saw an elderly gentleman relieving himself in the street in Corstorphine. I’ve seen it in India and Africa, but it’s not what we need here.
“The toilets in Corstorphine have been closed for a while. I thought I’d see if people were up for a community buy-out, so I put something up on the Corstorphine Memories website. Within 24 hours over 100 people replied, including an electrician offering to do the electrical work for free and a plumber saying he would maintain the stuff inside.
“But now it turns out the council has sold the toilets – they were never advertised and now they have gone without any consultation with the community or even getting a good price. We hear it has gone for £40,000 but the buildings next to it are two or three storeys so there’s potential for development on the site. Why was it never advertised? And why was there no consultation with the local community?”
Mr Barrett said given that the toilets had now been sold, the proceeds should be used to benefit the community by going towards the rebuilding of Corstorphine Public Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 2013.
“They have got about £1.2m but there is still a £400,000 funding gap. The council should use the proceeds from the sale of the toilets to reinvest in community.”
The city council confirmed the toilets had been sold for £40,000 to Lanark Road Property Ltd, owner of the adjoining property at 14 Featherhall Place, for an extension of its office.
The sale was approved by the council’s finance and resources committee in August 2016.
A spokeswoman said it was not part of the normal procedure with such sales to consult the community.
But she said: “Prior to final closure of facilities in 2015, consultation was undertaken with the wider community to establish views on the proposed closures and identify any steps that could be taken to lessen the effects of losing these facilities.”
And although some community groups had come forward there had been no alternative proposals for the toilets at that stage. She said there was no requirement on the council to advertise the property.
The spokeswoman added: “The capital receipt of £40,000 has been allocated to the council’s capital investment programme.”