Politicians have reacted angrily to Moray Council’s announcement that it will close fourteen more public toilets by the end of September.
The council, led by an SNP administration, says it hopes communities will take them over but, if not, they will be shut, saving the local authority £63,000 over the next two years.
Opposition councillors were quick to point out the impact the closures will have on the area.
Independent councillor Derek Ross described it as ‘a typical slash and burn cut’ while councillor Tim Eagle, of the Conservatives, said it felt like Moray was slipping into ‘an ever deeper black hole.’
Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston added: “I am particularly concerned about how those with medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diabetes would cope with the loss of the last remaining public toilets.
“There is a real risk that some might lose the confidence to go out and about and will effectively become trapped in their homes, leading to the threat of increased isolation.”
Moray council currently operates 18 toilets, with a further two leased to community organisations.
The toilets due to close include: Newlands Lane, Buckie; Seaview Road, Cummingston; Albert Place, Dufftown; Cooper Park, Elgin; West Dunes (North), Findhorn; Grant Park, Forres; Old Station, Ballindalloch; Tomnabat Lane, Tomintoul; Spey Street, Garmouth; Regent Square, Keith; East Street, Fochabers; Esplanade, Lossiemouth; Victoria Road, Craigellachie; New Street, Rothes.
Public toilets at the council’s six harbours will remain open to meet health and hygiene regulations.
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter urged communities to follow the example of community-operated public toilets elsewhere in Moray.
The SNP co-leader said: “There has been some great support from communities taking on toilet facilities, such as Lossiemouth, Craigellachie and Cullen.
“With continued community support, alongside the recent launch of our comfort scheme, toilet provision will still be accessible for residents and visitors, both in council-owned premises in the comfort scheme and those of other participants in the private sector.
“Council-operated public toilets will close at the end of this summer season to mitigate the impact for visitors to Moray, and we also hope that it will afford communities time to explore opportunities such as a community asset transfer.”
But Mr Halcro Johnston said: “The ‘comfort scheme’ being promoted by the council will not adequately make up for this loss of amenities, and the council’s own equality impact statement on this proposal makes it very clear the impact it could have on the lives of vulnerable people.”