A Toilet Saga

We love the public toilets on Leith Links! People have also commented on how clean they are – thanks to the toilet attendants. So, overall, it’s a big ‘Thank You’ from us, not a complaint!

BUT  – 11 weeks to get basic information informing the local community…..can you believe it? Here’s the timeline…

12 May 2022 – temporary (Portakabin style) toilets are delivered to the Links.

Someone living locally just happens to see the vehicle delivering them. At no time did the Council officially inform the Community Council of the plan of action for the toilets, or the timescales, although we were ‘tipped off’ that they were coming sometime soon.

Sometime (unclear) in May – The toilets are connected up and made functional,  attendants are appointed to look after the toilets, and start work. No announcement, no information.

June 8 – One local reports that the toilets are open and working.

Throughout June – Numerous locals keep asking, repeatedly; Are there toilets coming? Where are the toilets? Why are the toilets closed? When will they be opening? No signs, no information, the doors are always closed, no sign of life……

26 June  – Your Community Council asks the Council, via our three elected Councillors,  for clarification and full information about the situation.

27 June – The Community Council is informed by a Council Officer working for Councillor Adam McVey that the toilets are open from 10-8pm, 7 days a week, with a full time attendant. They are just hidden from view behind hedges and look closed.

29 June – At the behest of the Community Council, the Council Officer agrees to ask toilet supervisor to put signs up detailing opening hours. A local asks the toilet attendant to leave the external door open during the day so people can see they are open. There are two attendants, each working 4 days on, 4 days off.

29 June – Your Community Council posts widely on this site, on our own social media (Facebook & Twitter) and on ‘I Love Leith’ to spread the word about where the toilets are, and when they are open, etc., attracting many grateful comments from Leithers who had been unaware of them or confused about opening hours etc.

1 July – Doubt and confusion persist. It is very clear that what is missing is signage. Your Community Council asks the Council:

“PLEASE can we have 
1. an instruction to the attendant to leave the door open when the toilets are open, so people can see they are open.
2. A sign on the door or on the outside of the toilet block announcing its opening hours.
3. Signs around the Links pointing to where the toilets are located
4. A couple of A-boards on the Links nearby ( eg at the Playpark) that the attendant puts up as he comes on shift, that says ‘toilets OPEN until 8pm’) 
Meanwhile the Community Council is doing its bit to try to raise awareness on this matter. It seems a pointless waste of Council money and effort to put toilets on the Links that don’t get used because people don’t know they are there / open.
Surely some signs must be possible?

2 July – Since the Council have not produced any signs, your Community Council designs, prints, laminates and ties numerous signs to fences around the Links. (Some of these are still there, some have blown off or been torn down.)

At some point in July (unclear) – A couple of handwritten notices go up on the back of the building, on a gate and on the toilet doors stating that opening hours are 10 – 6pm.

Your Community Council was never informed of an official change to the opening hours. However, a local person had observed that the toilet attendant was closing up earlier than 8pm on several occasions, and this was reported to the Council. A reply came back from the Council that this was due to “anti-social behaviour”. (Unclear what this consisted of, no details available.) A recent conversation with the very helpful toilet attendant reveals that there has not been any official change of hours and it should still say 8pm. The handwritten signs are now smudged and unclear.

22 July – a Council vehicle and workers are observed putting up official ‘Public Toilet’ signs around the Links  (at least in the area nearest to the playpark and toilets). Hurrah!

From this we conclude that it takes the Council almost three months to deliver the most basic of information signage, with regard to public facilities – and only as a result of  repeated requests from the community. Given that the toilets are only there for about five or six months altogether, this seems indicative of woeful carelessness if not incompetence. Yes, it’s just a small thing in the grander scheme of things, but surely Councils should be able to get the small things right (or we might just doubt their ability to get bigger things right….)

Let’s be clear – we are all EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for the public toilets on Leith Links! 

However, we know this must all cost a lot of money and it seems a pathetic waste of money to put toilets and attendants there without making the public aware of them. Could the Council do better at thinking things through fully and in a joined-up way?  – basically, if it thought about things from the point of view of the community it is there to serve, rather than from its own point of view (forgot, cheaper, easier, low priority, too busy – whatever)? And if it shared information with the community organisations  – such as the Community Council –  whose very role is to share information with the local community?

Next year, please can we have toilets again, and PLEASE (rather than being kept secret) can they be provided in conjunction with information to the local community?