A GALASHIELS woman says she was left “angry and upset” after a disabled man had to urinate in a bottle – due to the closure of public toilets in the town.

Rosie Howie witnessed the wheelchair user struggle to gain access to the Bank Street facilities last week.

In a letter to this newspaper, she called on Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to reopen the toilets, which have been closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Howie said: “On June 2, two friends and myself were enjoying the sunshine while we sat on a bench near the fountain opposite Galashiels Library.

"We suddenly became aware of a couple trying to gain access to the toilets at the junction with Bank Street. 

“They had found that the toilets were locked and on asking if I could offer a Radar key, the lady said she had tried a key but the keyhole was blocked and the access for ambulant users to pay for entry was locked. 

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“The other member of the pair was a gentleman who used a wheelchair.

“I also believe the couple were visitors to the town.

“On suggesting that they might use Tesco’s facilities, the lady said they could not get there in a quick enough time. 

“The gentleman had actually suffered the indignity of having to publicly use a urinal/bottle (mostly shielded by his companion to prevent passersby catching sight of him). 

“I was so upset and angry that the gentleman had had to do this and just wondered to myself why on earth the facilities were closed in this manner or this time? 

“Cross-border travel is now being allowed. Surely it is time for Scottish Borders Council to amend their COVID pandemic policy of closing toilets to protect the public from the virus.

"Surely at least people, especially disabled people, should have the possibility to be able to ‘pee in private’.”

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The issue was also raised at last week’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council.

Chairwoman Judith Cleghorn said: “You will all have seen the dramatic situation that happened this afternoon and that really doesn’t portray Galashiels in a very good light.

"Can we find out when these facilities are going to reopen? There are people about now and this was an awful situation.”

SBC councillor Sandy Aitchison, an independent representative for Galashiels, said he “would try and find out” when toilets will reopen.

A spokesperson for SBC told the Border Telegraph: "A list of public toilets currently open is available on our website: www.scotborders.gov.uk/publictoilets   

"This includes the facilities at the Transport Interchange in Galashiels.

"In addition, all 39 accessible units operated by the council, including those on Bank Street, remain operational for anyone with a RADAR key."