FOUR members of the public have faced real inconvenience this year after becoming trapped in Borders loos, a new report reveals.

There has been a quartet of incidents where folks have been locked in a public toilet due to the automated locking mechanism failing.

This happened at public conveniences in Earlston, Eyemouth, Jedburgh and Innerleithen.

Additionally, there have been incidents of doors being kicked in to bypass the automated locking system, members of the council’s Scrutiny & Petitions Committee will be informed on Thursday (December 7).

There are now 27 public toilets open for use, with 14 remaining closed and with no plans to reopen them.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) charges for access to 17 of the 27 facilities.

Income this generates is offset by an increasing burden of repairs and operating costs.

To manage the revenue burden, SBC has trialled removing charging at six sites to assess the outcome for communities in terms of vandalism and condition complaints levels.

The sites under trial are Melrose, Coldingham, Kelso (Shedden Park & Horsemarket), Innerleithen and Duns.

In a report to the committee, John Curry, SBC’s director of infrastructure a & environment, says: “We have not seen a direct increase in vandalism levels or complaints relating to the removal of charging at these facilities. Income from coin collection offset against the operating costs, repairs and customer experience is not considered the most efficient or effective delivery model.

“Frequent breakdowns of the coin collection units impact opening times, result in expensive repairs (by Healthmatic) and delays in reopening.

“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. To achieve this a programme of surveys and capital investment is needed.

“The council will maintain the current operational estate including the provision of one council provided facility per each major existing settlement.

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

“Provisions will continue to be maintained for those who need access for medical reasons and/ or emergency access via the RADAR mechanism.

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