Town toilets close after public health concerns
HEALTH and safety fears forced the closure of both public toilets in Langholm over one of the busiest holiday weekends.
The council-run toilets at the Kilngreen and in Parliament Square were shut last Thursday afternoon after several weeks of intensive efforts to keep them open.
Councillor Denis Male, Annandale East and Eskdale, contacted the council and was told that the toilets had to be closed because of a problem with the drains/sewer system.
The toilets were backing up at both locations. This had been an ongoing problem for a while and they were both cleared last week but the problem had recurred.
The timing of this could not be worse, with the Easter weekend, but the toilets could not stay open because of the risk that they would be overflowing and cause a public health hazard.
Councillor Male said: "When I got the message on Thursday, I begged them to keep the toilets open but they said only if I wanted to see excrement running down the street.
"The message was that if they didn't close, they would be blocked and unusable. The toilets at the Kilngreen are worse.
"They've been having to rod them and flush them for several weeks to keep them going. The whole pipe system seems to be broken. I'm waiting to hear what the council's plan is but it doesn't sound like a short-term fix.
"Running public toilets is not one of the council's statutory duties but they have said they intend to repair them and keep them open."
Councillor Male said any repairs would be hampered by the fact that the pipes in the Parliament Square toilets ran under the town hall and the A7.
He added: "The toilets could not have stayed open. They would be overflowing and cause a public health hazard. It was not good to have this happen over the Easter weekend.
"I've been told the cost of keeping them going over the last couple of months has been £10,000. They've been rodding and flushing them every two days.
"It got to the point where the council could not guarantee that the toilets would not block and overflow at the weekend. An investigation is being carried out this week."
A Dumfries and Galloway Councill spokeswoman said: The toilets were closed because of a blocked drain at both locations, causing the toilets to overflow."