Council considers gender-neutral toilets and contactless pay

Report says public toilets in the capital are no longer fit for purpose and calls on local authority to invest in facilities.

Council considers gender-neutral toilets and contactless pay iStock

Edinburgh City Council is looking to secure £5m of funding to revamp its public toilets network – including gender-neutral facilities and contactless payment technology that would “allow charging to be considered”.

A report, set to go before councillors on Thursday, examines the city’s future provision of public toilets as it emerges from lockdown.

The report highlights toilets in the capital that are no longer fit for purpose, and where there are gaps in provision – including at the council’s ‘premier parks, at high-visitor locations such as Portobello beach and the Pentland Hills, and in Edinburgh’s official town centres.

The report calls on the council to invest in 15 of its current public toilets, and to close the toilets in Colinton, as this facility “does not align with proposed plans for future provision”.

It also highlights six areas where future toilet provision is being considered: Inverleith Park; Tollcross; Leith Links; Calton Hill; Corstorphine; and Morningside/Bruntsfield.

The report reads: “The creation of any new (or refurbished) toilet facilities will require capital funding.

“It is estimated that around £250,000 would be sufficient to create a purpose-built toilet facility although the exact costs will depend on the location, scale and whether there is an existing building which can be used.

“A similar sum may be required for refurbished buildings depending on the scale of change required.

“Capital funding of up to £5m will need to be identified in order to deliver all of the new or improved facilities.

“If the plans for future provision are approved, officers will commence work to identify external funding sources that help deliver this investment.

“Where new toilet blocks are created in parks, it is proposed to include concessions within the facility and two models of maintenance could be considered to address ongoing revenue costs – either the concessionaire could be service tenants who are responsible for the maintenance of the toilets; or the lease costs could off-set the running costs of the toilet facility.”

Furthermore, a previous report in October of last year recommended that the council “provides gender-neutral toilets which are easy to clean and allow easier management of physical distancing (given that all toilets would be individual contained units) whilst maintaining proper privacy and dignity and are cost-effective, and allow charging to be considered, with a contactless entry approach.”

Story by local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson

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