Call for Council to take responsibility for toilets

Stonehaven and district Community Council have decided to call time on their running of the public toilets on Stonehaven beach.

At last weeks meeting Community Councillors voted that they would approach Aberdeenshire Council with two motions concerning the running of the beach toilets.

The first motion stated that; “Stonehaven Community Council does not consider that running the beach toilets is a proper activity. This is in fact unconstitutional, is an improper use of funds and was only agreed to as a short term solution to the decision to close them down 2 years ago.”

They also voted to request that Aberdeenshire Council takes on the full, 12 month operation of the Beach Toilets.

This decision follows a number of incidents of vandalism at the beach toilets and the rising costs of keeping the toilets open.

There are however questions about whether the local authority will take over the running of the facility however it was discussed that they should take responsibility particularly in light of the development of the picnic area on the beach front which includes a pathway to the toilets.

The visit of the olympic torch in June was also discussed as Community Councillors felt that with the amount of people this would bring to the town the toilets would be needed.

Following the meeting Community Councillor Allan Sutherland contacted Willie Munroe, area manager for Kincardine and Mearns.

In his reply, Mr Munroe finds some issues with what the Community Council is seeking to do. He said: “ Firstly, Motion 1 is factually incorrect. Whilst SDCC took them over 2 years ago, they had been officially closed for many years before that.

“Also, there is nothing wrong with a community council taking over such facilities, indeed toilets are mentioned in the community council handbook.”

He explains that the local authority rationalised public toilet provision so that there was more consistent coverage across Aberdeenshire and to make budget savings.

He said: “This resulted in a number of closures including the beach toilets in Stonehaven. Stonehaven remains one of the best serviced communities with public toilets at Margaret Street and the harbour and toilets available to the public at the town hall and leisure centre.

“The good news is that we have flexibility in trying to keep the service running, but not using direct Council funding as it is no longer provided for in the budget. Therefore, any arrangements need to be cost neutral to the public convenience budget. As it happens, over the past decade, by various means, these toilets have been open, if not all, then certainly most summers. None of these arrangements have proved to be sustainable.”

He explains they will work with SDCC to find a “Sustainable” way of keeping the toilets running however he says that asking the Council to reverse a division is not going to achieve “the desired result”.

He said: “I am happy, indeed very keen to pull together appropriate people from within the community and the council to find a way forward and wheels are in motion to set up a meeting.”