COUNCIL-RUN public toilets across the Borders are to be upgraded – but closed facilities will not reopen.

Scottish Borders Council currently has 27 public loos open for use, with 14 others remaining shut.

A report to be presented to full council next week gives a commitment to enhance the existing toilets but makes clear that the closed facilities will not reopen, with plans to sell them off.

In 2019/20, the final year prior to the current operating model for public toilets being introduced, the net cost of operating the facilities was £332k per annum.

At the start of the COVID pandemic all public toilets were closed. In August 2020, the council reopened 16 facilities in key locations with an enhanced cleaning regime.

A further 11 facilities were reopened from August 2021.

In Eyemouth, Jedburgh, Kelso, Galashiels, Melrose, Selkirk, Hawick and Peebles, the council owns more than one facility and continues to provide one operating facility in each of these towns.

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In a report, John Curry, the council’s director for environment and infrastructure, said:  “The condition of public toilets influences visitor and local perception of a community and there is a need to enhance the condition of the 27 facility operational toilet estate.

“A phased approach to upgrading payment operated locking facilities will be implemented along with a move to accepting contactless payment facilities.

“An appropriate cleaning and inspection regime has to be maintained on a daily basis with cleaning of public toilets undertaken once per day.

“The council will, where this is desired by communities, help to facilitate community-led initiatives to operate new or additional facilities. For the avoidance of doubt this will not extend to grant funding communities to take on redundant facilities.

“To help to sustain the refurbishment of a smaller estate, facilities will to be sold on the open market, transferred to communities as community asset transfers or demolished.

“It is anticipated the future provision of public toilets will deliver a net saving in 2023/24 allowing for the permanent delivery of the financial plan saving of £50k.

“The council has already received two expressions of interest for two facilities and it is anticipated that this will increase.”