Scottish Conservatives have launched a petition to garner support for their ‘Save Our Loos’ campaign in a bid to make Perth and Kinross Council review their plan to close attended toilets.
The politicians launched their campaign in Blairgowrie, which is one of four such facilities targeted for closure by the local authority – the others being the attended toilets in Marshall Place, Perth, James Square, Crieff and in Auchterarder.
Perth and Kinross Council intend closing the facilities in order to make savings of £85,000. They mooted their plans at the annual budget meeting back on March 1, when they revealed they would only retain public toilets with the highest footfall – namely Pitlochry and Dunkeld.
The Council has said that there are ‘currently’ no proposed changes to the unattended toilets and automatic public toilets in Perth and Kinross.
Commenting, Stephen Kerr, who is standing for the Angus and Perthshire Glens Westminster seat for the Scottish Conservatives at the next General Election, said: “I support this petition wholeheartedly. The fact that Perth and Kinross Council should be considering the closure of these facilities, which are well-used and valued by public and visitors alike. is staggering. To lose public toilets in places where their very existence makes the destinations in question more attractive as a stopping point for tourists would be madness.”
And Murdo Fraser MSP added: “We are proud to launch the petition for our Save Our Loos campaign in Blairgowrie. Blairgowrie is one of the four attended public toilets earmarked for closure by the council and we will do all we can to try to make the local authority think again about these ridiculous plans. Many local residents in Blairgowrie and the other three areas are set to lose public toilets and will be asking themselves ‘where do you go to the toilet’ as there will be no proper provision.
“I realise that councils are across the country being starved of vital funds by the SNP Government and have to look at making cuts to some services, but to consider closing four public toilets as a means of saving money is frankly shocking and local residents will feel badly let down.”
Liz Smith MSP commented: “This is a deeply retrograde step. At a time when it is difficult enough to get visitors into our town centres, the closure of public toilets will just make matters worse. The businesses to whom I have spoken to are very much against this move, and I am already receiving complaints from members of the public – most especially in Crieff – who fought so hard 15 years ago, to get their facilities re-opened.”
Councillor Caroline Shiers said: “I have been a Councillor for Blairgowrie and the Glens for over 16 years and public toilets have come up as a budget saving for most of those years. I have opposed their closure and will continue to do so.
“There are other options which could be trialled. Making them unattended with appropriate security and a barrier method such as those operated in other places should be considered.
“I am aware discussions are ongoing about community ownership and operation, but it is my belief that provision of public facilities should be operated by the local authority. They are a basic requirement and need to be kept open.”
And fellow Blairgowrie and the Glens Councillor Bob Brawn said: “Ever since my election in 2017, Council officers have always proposed closure of the public toilets in Blairgowrie as a possible budget saving. Each year during the last Scottish Conservative administration, this was always rejected.
“Blairgowrie is the largest town in Perth and Kinross and for it to have no public toilets, catering for locals and visitors alike, is unacceptable. Quiet understandably, and rightly, there is much local concern - even anger - that the current SNP Council administration have committed to closure in March next year.
“Yes, we are aware that the public toilets cost money. However, they are a service, not a business and as such their fate should not rest on their ability to be cost effective. They must remain open.”
Residents can give their support to the Save Our Loos campaign by clicking on this link: Save Our Loos | Perth and Kinross (perthandkinrossconservatives.org.uk)