Highlands & Islands

Job cuts under Highland Council's toilet closure plans

Toilets at Rhiconich
Image caption Highland Council has been reviewing its provision of public toilets

Forty jobs could go under Highland Council's new plans to close public toilets across its area.

The local authority had proposed either shutting 29 sites or transferring them into community ownership.

Following a review, it now plans to continue running nine of the toilets and sell off the rest, or ask community groups to operate them.

The rationalisation would involve the loss of the jobs and save the council £491,000 a year.

Highland Council is the UK's largest provider of public conveniences.

A report following the review will be considered at a meeting of Highland Council on 25 October.

Conservative councillor Andrew Jarvie has described the local authority's process on toilet closures "a shambles".

Image caption Highland Council is the largest provider of public conveniences

Last month, more than 20,000 people signed a petition calling on Highland Council not to close its public toilets across the north Highlands.

Campaigners gathered thousands of signatures from residents of Scourie, Kinlochbervie and Durness.

Thousands more added their names using an online petition.

Tourists have been among those to sign the petition, which was handed to Highland Council.

Council's proposals

Following the review, the local authority has recommended retaining as council-run facilities toilets in Achmelvich, Station Brae in Fort William, Lairg, West Beach Nairn, Rhiconich, Scourie, Smoo Cave, Tarbet and Dingwall.

It said there was potential for asset transfers of the facilities at Avoch, Elgol, Helmsdale and Rosemarkie. A toilet in Portmahomack could be operated by the community in the winter.

Preparations are being made for the sale on the open market of four toilets, with retention of a public convenience as a condition of sale. These are at Kinlochewe, Kylesku, Nairn's Harbour Road and Talmine.

Due to the availability of alternative service provision nearby and the lack of expressions of interest from alternative service providers, the council said a number of facilities have been identified to close after 31 October this year.

These include Kinlochbervie, Halkirk, Keiss, Lybster, Thurso Harbour, Wick Camps and Mealmarket Close, Inverness.

It said the seasonal facilities in Caithness were subject to further discussion with local councillors to see if alternative non-council run services can be found.

Fortrose is also a seasonal facility and the council said it will continue to work with stakeholders over the winter to retain this facility if an appropriate business case can be made.

Highland Council said it will also continue to work with partners to retain the North Kessock facility if an appropriate business case can be made.

A further outcome of the review will be the creation of 10 mobile teams that will service many of the facilities.

The council said this approach will lead to the creation of up to 18 full-time posts, reducing the number of full-time equivalents required to provide the service by 11.

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