They may not be cool or sexy, but public toilets remain absolutely critical for people in Moray.
That’s the view of Visit Moray Speyside chief executive Laurie Piper, whose group is delighted after receiving a five-figure sum from an offshore windfarm fund.
The cash will be put towards trying to secure the long-term future of Moray’s public loos – a saga which has been dragging on for some time now.
The tourism group has unveiled a two-year approach to work towards ending the toilets crisis after the £45,000 award from the Beatrice Partnership Fund.
The £3m windfarm fund has benefited groups and organisations across coastal Moray communities since 2017.
What is the Moray public toilets crisis?
The facilities remain vital for visitors and locals.
Last year, 14 loos were due to close by the end of September.
That’s if the council failed to offload them into community hands.
Moray Council put together the plan to try to save £63,000 over a two-year period.
The toilets earmarked for closure were:
- Cooper Park, Elgin
- Near the beach in Findhorn
- Grant Park, Forres
- Regent Square, Keith
- The Esplanade, Lossiemouth
Concerned opposition councillors described the announcement as a “typical slash and burn cut” and the move was ultimately delayed.
In August, the local authority agreed to fund the loos through 2021 amid concerns about the negative impact on Moray.
Now Visit Moray Speyside is working with the council and communities to drive a long-term solution for the toilets.
Already in the region, Cullen and Lossiemouth run their own public toilets.
Visit Moray Speyside’s mission to help save public toilets
The group’s chief executive Laurie Piper said: “Recent years have seen public conveniences in Moray closed through austerity and local government cuts, leaving communities without adequate provision.
“We want to help with legal work and fixing the toilets up.
“We are going to help them trial run the loos.
“Also the process of a community asset transfer.
“Hopefully it is the start of the end of the toilet challenge.”
‘Public toilets aren’t cool or sexy, but critical’
He added: “Public toilets aren’t cool or sexy, but they are absolutely critical for both residents and visitors to Moray Speyside.
“The award from Beatrice will enable Visit Moray Speyside to roll-out a ‘toilets toolkit’.
“It actively support local communities who want to secure the long-term future of their local toilets.
“We are deeply grateful to the awarding panel for seeing our vision and the potential to make a difference.
“The next phrase is to apply for similar windfarm funds to support communities in Forres and Speyside.
Moray Council committed to keeping public toilets open
A council spokeswoman said: “We’re committed to keeping the existing toilets that we currently operate open.
“This is subject to annual review, as are all services when it comes to setting the budget.
“We’ll continue to work with Visit Moray Speyside and support communities wishing to take on the running of toilets.
“For example, on June 8 the council agreed to transfer Findhorn toilets to The Findhorn Village Conservation Company.”