VILLAGE LOO IS SAVED PDF Print E-mail

At a meeting on Wednesday 21st November the Stewartry Area Committee voted in favour of revised proposals regarding public convenience provision which excluded Auchencairn from the closure programme.
CONGRATULATIONS AND SINCERE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTED THE CAUSE.

The Area Committee may in the future look to develop a scheme where they enter into partnership with nearby businesses or village halls that having a toilet provision on their premises that could be used by the public as an alternative to the public convenience and thus allowing further closures. This 'Comfort' partnership is being trialed in Wigtownshire which has seen the biggest effect of the Council cuts. They are going to investigate the possibility of it happening in Castle Douglas which then may allow the closure of the Carlingwark Street Public Conveniences. Savings made in that 'partneship' agreement could then be redistributed to ensure a higher level of maintainance at those in Market Hill.

It is clear that if successful the Council will examine opportunities for Comfort Partnership arrangements throughout the area. While Auchencairn is safe for the present it is clear that the issue may return at a later time.

CAMPAIGN DETAILS

Letter published in The Galloway News on 2nd August 2007 maintains public awareness

Dear Editor

While the report on public convenience provision across the Region promised for the Combined Services Committee in June 2007 has not yet surfaced, I’m sure that the delay was particularly appreciated by many of the people that attended the Wickerman Festival over the last weekend.

Indeed the Public Conveniences in Auchencairn that are still threatened by the council axe were extremely well used by people heading for and in particular leaving the event. In fact the weekend was generally busier, as witnessed by someone who lives opposite the facility and its car parking.

Let’s hope that this time around the Council do as they said and take into account the need of tourists and other travellers when reviewing the provision, rather than basing their decision on the need reflected by the resident population alone. The promised consultation with Community Councils will no doubt also help them to gauge the true picture if local needs (if they ever get around to it).

Meantime well done Dumfries and Galloway Regional Council for keeping our Auchencairn loo open – long may the situation continue.


All the best
Brian Maxwell
Rathan
Auchencairn.

11th July 2007

We are still awaiting the report from the review and consultation being carried out as per the report on 1st May. As yet the new Combined Services Committee has not met. There is concern that there has to date been no further consultation with our Community Council.

UPDATE REPORT 1st MAY 2007

Further correspondence from Dumfries and Galloway Council:

Geoff Lewis, Director of Combined Services states that public toilet provision 'is an ongoing procedure and now is required to follow a process with Members'.

Derek Crichton, Stewartry Area Manager states that 'future reports to Combined Services Committee and Area Committees on public conveniences should detail usage, population and visitor numbers and that the relevant Community Councils, the Dumfries and Galloway Coalition of Disabled People and the D & G Access Panel should be involved at an early stage in consultation'.

Auchencairn Community Council which now leads in this matter has been updated with the details.

UPDATE REPORT 17TH APRIL 07

At the meeting of the Combined Services Committee it was agreed to strike out recommendation 3.2 of the report.
Geoff Lewis, Corporate Director of Combined Services stated that he was'not comfortable' with regards to recommendations based on the population breakdown. He felt that there was a need to look at other options including e.g. ownership transfers. He said that there needed to be an urgent review of 'manned facilities' which are costly to support and where there could be the opportunity to make substantial savings that could have a bearing on the effects of the budget cuts elsewhere in the Region. There was a need to go away and consider the options and pass them on to Area Committees who would decide on a management strategy.

Several Committee Members highlighted that the recommendations being made on a population basis alone were not acceptable and that matters like the volume of use and in particular 'tourist use' should be factored into the equation. The need for speed of reporting was also highlighted. details should be back in front of this Committee at the first opportunity after the elections and thereafter moved to the Area Committees for them to decide on their strategy - as a result of delay, the Director was already in a position of spending money that he may not have in the budget. The earliest that an Area Committee might be in place to look at the matter is June 07.

The Committee resolved that there should be a review of unmanned facilities and a further report and recommendations considering population, use and tourist factors brought back by Combined Services 'with speed'.

NOTE: This summary is produced in good faith from what the editor heard in person and is expected to be reflected in the eventually published Minutes. You may wish to check the contents with Dumfries and Galloway Council. This update report is not produced by or on behalf of the Auchencairn Community Council.

UPDATE REPORT - 10TH APRIL 07

D & G Council has kindly advised a change in the date/order of Committees reviewing the future of the local conveniences.

The subject has been removed from the Stewartry Area Committee Agenda for 16th April (see update of 4th April).

A report currently being written by Harry Thomson will be placed before the Combined Services Committee on Tuesday 17th April (public admission but no input) and recommendations from there will be scheduled for review by a Stewartry Area Committee at a later date.

UPDATE REPORT - 4TH APRIL 07

On 2rd April Mr Harry Thomson of Dumfries and Galloway Council responded to our objections to toilet closure by writing to the Community Council and duplicating the letter for the benefit of those that signed the petition style document. I append the details for your information as they are saying that the Council is not required to deliver individual replies to all the signatories due to cost implications (concern was raised regarding cost at our meeting on 1st March and with the Community Council I indicated a willingness to negotiate the matter and to cut costs e.g. hand deliver copies of Council produced documentation to those on document. Due to lack of communication from the Council this matter didn’t arise).

As our views concur with those of Auchencairn Community Council it was agreed at the Community Council monthly public meeting on 3rd April that they will respond to the letter from Dumfries and Galloway Council and hereafter lead the issue on our behalf.

D&G Response

“You must appreciate that the prospect of toilet closures has to be set within the context of a 25% reduction in the budget for this service.
 
Auchencairn is one of a number of villages in the Stewartry area with a population of 200 or less. There are a number of these settlements which do not have the benefit of a public convenience, and whilst it is clear that the various petitioners, whether resident in or visitors to the village, feel that the village will suffer a detriment through loss of the facility.

Dumfries & Galloway Council is committed to encouraging the growth of tourism in the area, through working in partnership with a number of organisations such as Scottish Enterprise Dumfries & Galloway and Visit Scotland. The Council invests heavily in events and organisations which seek to draw in increased visitor numbers.
The Council does have a large number of functions for which it is responsible, and is facing pressure to reduce expenditure. The Council currently provides roughly one public toilet for every 1,850 of the population. This contrasts with Cumbria (1 :5,890) and Scottish Borders (1 :2,540). The comparative over-provision has led to review of the relative priority of the 80 public conveniences which we currently operate.

The Council is not under an obligation to provide any public conveniences. It has inherited a historic pattern of provision, and in attempting to prioritise provision, officers have taken into account a number of factors such as population, visitor numbers and location.
 
Organisers of large public events are required to ensure adequate toilet provision for those participating. Business owners are also required to provide adequate toilet provision for the use of staff.

The risk of public nuisance being committed as a result of toilet closure must be one of the factors taken into account when considering such issues; however, there is no indication that Auchencairn is subject to any greater risk than other settlements with a similar population size.
 
It is difficult to determine the usage of unstaffed facilities. However, the relative ease of maintenance and cleaning would appear to indicate that usage in the more rural locations is generally low.
 
As referred to above, the Council is very concerned to generate additional visitor numbers for the region. There is no indication, however, that provision of this type of toilet facility impacts significantly on tourist numbers, as suggested by the relative provision in Cumbria and the Scottish Borders. It is not anticipated that the reduction in budget would place Dumfries & Galloway in a position of notoriety in terms of relative numbers nationally.
 
Prioritisation of the 80 facilities currently provided by the Council has been carried out on as objective a basis as possible, and clearly it would not be the purpose of this process to discriminate against individuals or groups of individuals.
It would be an unfortunate impact of any toilet closure that there would be no further requirement for cleaning input and, if the normal redeployment procedure could not be applied, there would therefore be a redundancy situation.

The Council is committed to bringing all its buildings up to a standard which facilitates access by people with disabilities. It will not seek to close facilities on the basis that they do not provide such access.
 
The financial cost of decommissioning the toilets would be £ 295.00

As you know, the matter has not yet been taken to Area Committee for discussion, and there will be a further report to Combined Services Committee on April 17 in respect of the general position.”

While the matter is as stated now being pursued by the Community Council on our behalf, should anyone wish to pursue it directly, then they should contact  Mr Harry Thomson, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Head Office, Marchmount House, Marchmount Avenue , Dumfries. DG1 1PY. Direct Dial 01387 731000 Fax 01387 731123

Information received today from The Stewartry Area Management Office is that the subject is still due to be before the Stewartry Area Committee at 7pm on Monday 16th April in Castle Douglas Town Hall. This is of course a public meeting. As the Agenda is subject to change I would remind you that the details do get published in the Galloway News.  - NB: 'See update of 10th April for amendment to these details'

Thank you all for your support to date.

Brian Maxwell
4th April 07

UPDATE REPORT -20th March 07

You will recall that we were advised by letter dated 8th March that our petition document had been passed to Mr Harry Thomson, Group Business Manager, for consideration and response and that the Public Conveniences Report had been removed from the Agenda of the Stewartry Area Committee of 19th March. By that date no further communication had been received.

The petition document organiser therefore attended the meeting and raised the issue. The Committee was then advised that the subject is now being reconsidered and more time was needed to prepare a report. The Members appeared to be perturbed by the absence of the report and called for it to be presented at their April meeting, together with the personal attendance of the Head of Combined Services to explain its absence on this occassion.

The next meeting of the Stewartry Area Committee is scheduled for 7pm on Monday 16th April 07 at Castle Douglas Town Hall. You are urged to start thinking about being there to show support for our cause.

Any further developments will be published on this website.

While we await a response from Mr Thomson the petition continues so please E-mail your support as shown below and/or write direct to the Council in protest.

Full story below:

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On Thursday 1st March 2007 a petition from concerned residents, visitors to and friends of the village, signed by 248 (now 253) such people, who are opposed to the proposal by Dumfries and Galloway Council to close the public toilets in Auchencairn, was delivered for consideration. Its inception, methodology and results were explained to Mr Crichton of their Area Management Team, who was also given a hard copy to accompany the petition (see below for breakdown of presented statistics).
At the same time a letter opposing the closure was handed over on behalf of Auchencairn Community Council.

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L to R: Derek Crichton (D&G Council), Jack Martin (Community Council), Brian Maxwell (Petition Organiser) and Ward Councillor Jane Maitland.

Mr Crichton gave assurances that all matters raised by interested parties would be put forward to the member of Combined Services, designated to draw up a viability and recommendations report, for consideration by the Stewartry Area Committee (provisional date of public meeting is 7.00pm on 19th March 07 at Gatehouse of Fleet Primary School). They would make a decision based mainly on that report and in turn make recommendations to the full Council, who could either ratify it or decide otherwise. He emphasised that no decisions had been made at this time and the process would be transparent.

It remains important for all interested parties to continue to make their representations either direct to the Council or through their elected representatives and to make every effort to attend the public meeting of the Stewartry Area Committe on 19th March.

History

This matter arose when on 13th February, Jack Martin, Chair of our Community Council told an unrelated village meeting of him receiving notification from Dumfries and Galloway Council of their intent to close the public toilets in Church Road, Auchencairn as an exercise to cut their annual costs by £700 - £900.

While the proposal would be opposed by the Community Council and Ward Councillor Jane Maitland the gathering felt that it was such an important issue that members of the public opposed to the closure should also voice their concerns direct to the Council.

To that end a petition against closure was started whereby anyone appending their details in support required Dumfries and Galloway Council to register and consider their individual entry as an objection that required a personal response.

The petition lists were collated on 28th February 07 and delivered next day as stated above.

The signatories included:

• 166 objections from residents in Auchencairn village and area.

• residents of Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Dundrennan, Haugh of Urr, Kirkcudbright, Lochfoot, Palnackie, Parton, Strathclyde, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire,Yorkshire, Northern Ireland and Denmark. Several of the signatories can be identified as tourists and travelling workers.

• A couple, presently resident in England, who are shortly moving to live in Auchencairn village and like others, saw the item on the community website.

• A family from Motherwell who travelled to Auchencairn to walk the recently opened Hugh Paton Path. On arrival in the village their first stop was the village toilet and the second was to offer their support.

• A mixed sex group with both physical and visual impairments who on an outing stopped at the toilets and were outraged at the suggestion of the loss of such a well kept and accessible facility.

Anyone living outside the area who wishes to offer their support can do so by E-mail with their name and full postal address to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or write directly to Mr Crichton at the below address. A continuing petition which you are invited to sign is held at Rathan, 1 The Square, Auchencairn. Please feel free to call at any time.

Anyone requiring further information or wishing to make comment can contact Brian Maxwell Tel: 01556 640289 or E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Finalised details of the petition

Note: There have been some additions/alterations made to the petition first displayed. Any objections or comments regarding them should be related to the contact number or e-mail address below for onward transmission to the Council.

 

Mr Derek Crichton                                                             Originators address
Dumfries and Galloway Council                                           as per attached list.
Area Management
Daar Road
Kirkcudbright                                                                     28th February 2007
DG6 4JG


Dear Mr Crichton


My signature and address being shown on this petition commencing 15thFebruary 2007, is the expression of my individual objection against the proposal by Dumfries and Galloway Council, to close the public toilets in Church Road, Auchencairn.

I require that the Council consider the following reasons for objection and the related questions during their deliberations and balance the negative impact caused by closure against the potential apparently minor financial savings that would result.

I request a written response to my concerns and questions be sent to my address (as given on the attached list). This should be in such a time scale that I am then afforded the further opportunity to respond before the Council meets to make any decision in pursuit of the proposal.


Objections to this proposed closure are:

1. Closure would amount to our Council expressing a complete lack of concern for the health, well-being and basic human needs of both our resident and transient populations.

The local people affected by such action would include:-
• school children.
• the elderly and others on trips to/from the village shop and/or church (no facilities at either).
• passengers waiting for or alighting from public transport.
• people walking for leisure in the area.
• people going home from the pub, parties, social activities, meeting etc. and in particular those not taking place in the village hall.
• trades people including the Post Mistress, Postal delivery workers, farm workers, Regional Council employees like  refuse collectors and mobile library operatives, utility company employees, delivery drivers, coalmen, oil and milk tanker drivers etc who, due to their type or location of business, have no other acceptable facility available.
• people of any age or sex with either a long term or temporary medical/social need including expectant or nursing mothers and those with physical disabilities or impairments.
• Occupants of both the social and private housing developments that are planned for the village and who are likely to increase the numbers in each of the above categories.

Add to this those the transient people who can be grouped under the generic term ‘tourist’. These are the people who we seek to encourage to visit our village by foot, motor cycle, car and pedal cycles for leisure purposes and includes the residents of nearby communities who pass through to other places.

      Included in this ‘tourist’ group are the many thousands of people who attend the
      annual Council sponsored Wickerman Festival. Auchencairn is on the recognised
      ingress/egress route and unsurprisingly many stop on their journey to use the
      village toilets. Indeed during that weekend many visit Auchencairn from the
      festival site in order to use the well presented toilets for personal hygiene and
      obtaining water supplies. This phenomena is outwith the control of the event
      organisers.

      Add to these the increasing number of people who attend the Council sponsored
      arts and crafts festival weekend ‘Spring Fling’ from a wide area and many of
      whom being without a local base have little choice but use public toilets.

      All of the above people are (even for a short time), part of the community of 
      Auchencairn and would be adversely affected by closure of the toilets by our
      Council.


2. Closure may result in public nuisances being committed close to or beside the closed facilities, either within the surrounds of the village hall, against neighbouring property, in the public street or surrounding area. As closure would mean that there is no public toilet availability between Dalbeattie and/or Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright via our scenic coast road and must therefore increase the likelihood of such events.


3. Closure may impact on the viability of current and planned local enterprises at a time when we are striving to secure sustainable development in our rural area. This seems to fly in the face of Council projects like the Craft Development Service designed to encourage people to develop their small businesses in areas such as Auchencairn.

Eight associated questions to which I request reasoned answers from Dumfries and Galloway Council:-

1. What factual information has the Council obtained about the frequency of use of our village toilets?

2. As there are no plans for other public toilets in the village or local area, the message that you are sending to current residents, prospective residents, those attending festivals/events and other much needed tourists, is that you are not concerned for either their personal welfare or our village future. Does this reflect your policies in relation to tourism?

3. Dumfries and Galloway may be branded as ‘The Natural Place to Live’ but do you want to face the ignominy of becoming known as ‘The Natural Place with nowhere to Naturally Go’? How would you prevent such notoriety adversely affecting the sustainability and growth of our local enterprises?

4. Our enviable location in a National Scenic Area may become less desirable due to the potential for anti-social behaviour to which people should not be exposed. What do you anticipate as being the resultant environmental and health impact of such activity, what service will be provided to combat such impact and at what cost?

5. Suggestions by the Council that the public should use the toilet facilities of hotels, cafes etc are unacceptable. Many commercial enterprises do not welcome non-customers due to insurance or personal preference issues. It is not their place to provide facilities. Such premises are not always open or indeed suitable. To ask any person to have to walk through a public bar or a private function to access a toilet is thoughtless. The same applies to accessing our village hall toilets. While recognising that the Council has no legal obligation to provide public toilet facilities, there through precedence remain both moral and access discrimination issues to consider. What is the Council’s answer to this issue?

6. Auchencairn public toilets have for some time been maintained in an admirable state of cleanliness by a village resident and employee of our Council.  Do you intend through the proposed closure to remove these meagre but important earnings capability from our community and potentially add to the unemployment statistics?

7. The toilets in Auchencairn are designed better than most in the Region to provide access and meet the needs of the diverse persons in our society. Where does the Council stand on providing toilet facilities for physically disabled and sight impaired people, their needs often being greater than others?

8. What would be the financial cost in terms of work hours, travel costs, materials, signage removal etc to decommission the toilets?

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS APPEAL. WE HOPE THAT YOU SUPPORT OUR OBJECTIVE AND WILL BY ACTION HELP US TRY TO ENSURE THAT OUR VILLAGE PROVIDES A WELL SERVICED AND WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT FOR ALL.