|VILLAGE LOO IS SAVED|
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.
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.
Letter published in The Galloway News on 2nd August 2007 maintains public awareness
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:-
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
Add to these the increasing number of people who attend the Council sponsored
All of the above people are (even for a short time), part of the community of
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.