Good news for both locals and visitors
THE news that Langholm’s two public toilets will not be affected by cuts to services has been universally
The toilets, at the Kilngreen and in Parliament Square, were the subject of a consultation by Dumfries and Galloway Council last year.
There were fears that at least one of them would be closed or services reduced at a time when the town is expanding activities for visitors.
Last August Nicola Simpson, community asset manager for Annandale and Eskdale, led a discussion on the toilets during two meetings in the town hall.
She said that earlier that day she had sat in her car at the
Kilngreen and saw the loos being used 17 times in 45 minutes, including by delivery and lorry drivers.
The council had a budget of £442,109 for 58 toilets. It wanted to reduce the budget by £20,000 this financial year and £108,000 in 2020/21.
She said: “We’re assessing their condition and accessibility. We’re consulting other councils to see what they’re doing and we’ve also been asked to consider the amount of human waste on our roadsides, which is becoming more common, particularly on the B7076 which runs alongside the motorway between Ecclefechan and Moffat.”
She said the council could reduce the opening hours, shut them in the winter or reduce the frequency of cleaning.
One suggestion from those attending was to charge 20p to customers. This was done in the Borders and people were prepared to pay if the toilets were of a good standard.
People also said the town was trying to bring in tourists, not frighten them away. The toilets were also used by the home carers on rural routes and by visiting walkers.
It was pointed out that the council was installing electric charging points for vehicles at the Kilngreen so drivers would spend time there while charging their vehicle batteries.
On the issue of businesses introducing a “comfort scheme”, Mr Galloway, joint owner of the Eskdale Hotel, said: “We don’t turn people away but we don’t want people coming in and out and kids running about. Guests pay to stay with us.
“I know the Eskdale Foundation did some work to improve the Kilngreen toilets to make them more pleasant so that’s a possibility and something to be explored.
“But I don’t think it would be advisable for those toilets to be lost, particularly in light of what we’re planning.
“A lot of work has been done on developing this area as a tourism destination. The last thing we want to do is promote it and for people not to be able to use the toilets. It would be a bit silly, in my opinion.”
At its meeting this week the council’s communities committee received a report on the progress being made with the review on toilets.
Members were asked to approve a new cleaning model projected to save more than £78,000 a year.
The savings, required from last year’s budget process, would be made on the condition that none of the region’s 58 public toilets would close.
Savings of £20,000 had already been achieved this year so this saving of £78,000 would be made in 2020/21.
Ronnie Tait, ward councillor and committee member, said: “The committee has implemented the new cleaning model but it will not affect Langholm.
“Langholm will carry on as usual. A separate discussion will take place with the relevant officers and myself on some improvements to the internal areas of the existing toilets.”
Mr Galloway, who is also community council chairman, added: “If they say there’s to be no change, that’s good news.
“We know ourselves that the toilets are well used compared with some others in the region where they might get a dozen in a month.
“It’s par for the course that every time the council sets a budget, it reviews everything.”
He said he had been asked to host a toilet in the hotel and, while we would never refuse anyone who comes in to use the toilet, it’s not the same thing.
“I was concerned that none of the establishments here could offer a fully-accessible service.
“It was nothing to do with being compensated for the cleaning and the loo rolls but it was about having proper facilities.”
He said that sometimes people asked to use the hotel toilet because they couldn’t see the toilets in Parliament Square.
He reiterated his point that it made no sense to install electric charging points at the Kilngreen if there were no toilets.
The charging points had been delayed because of a land ownership issue but he thought they might go in during February.”
The Langholm Regeneration Group, which organises events to boost the High Street through year, also welcomed the news.
A spokesperson said: “The toilets are very important to the town’s efforts to regenerate itself, attract new businesses, more visitors and become more of a destination for days out and breaks.
“It would have been a real blow if one or both had been closed or had its hours restricted.
“It would have put people off from staying longer in the town if they were visiting. Any loss of services at this stage would have hampered our efforts.”