Find out where our visitors come from in 2016 and what they said about our public toilets
Wee Gallery at the Heritage Point
When you take real pride in the place that you live you want visitors and tourists to have a really positive experience and enjoy the best that your community has to offer. National Cycle Route 1 runs through the centre of the village linking eight different countries which border the North Sea. Along with our community gardens and beach the village attracts tourists from all over the UK and beyond. The only facility we have in the village is our public toilets and the nearest alternative is 3 miles away or an hour if you are waiting for a bus. As part of our East Haven 800 celebrations in 2014 we received a generous grant from the Angus Environmental Trust to transform the outside of the building into a heritage point. Designing our interpretation boards involved the whole community and we worked closely with partner organisations such as SNH, the RSPB and the Angus Cetechans.
This year however, due to budegtary constraints, Angus Council had to give consideration to the future viability of the toilets. Consequently, after consultation with residents we decided to enter into a Community Partnership to help keep them open. More about the background is explained in the article below, 'why a community partnership?'
In May 2015, the Council provided us with a small budget for cleaning and maintenance and as a result we have been able to provide a much enhanced service. Volunteers receive a small remuneration for their efforts which are considerable as the internal enviroment has been greatly improved. Donations from the public enable us to provide fresh flowers, soap, hand towels and hand cream. Members of our Heritage and Garden Group have created a gallery of original paintings based on either a maritime or floral theme. As a result, we have renamed our public toilets, the 'wee gallery at the heritage point'.
We've twinned our toilets!
Never mind the twinning of towns, East Haven has twinned their public toilets with a latrine in a village called Marriyam Nagar in Pakistan's Umerkot district. We have talked a lot in recent times about the importance of a public toilet network in the UK. The importance of good sanitation and clean drinking water is fundamental not just here but across the world. We hope that when people stop off to use the loo they will think about the 1 in 3 people in the world who don't have access to somewhere safe, private or hygenic to go to the toilet. Also, that a child dies every minute from diarrhoeal diseases and 60% of all rural diseases are caused by poor hygiene and sanitation. It is a sobering thought that this very baisc fundamental human need is not available to all communities.
Why a Community Partnership?
The idea of a Community Partnership arose in late 2014/15 when the Council, faced with severe budget cuts had to consider the long term viability of it's network of public toilets across Angus. Residents were concerned that the toilets might be closed at a time when the village was experiencing a significant increase in tourism. The Director of Communities met with members of the community on an informal basis to chat about the idea and explore what would be involved. Initially, it seemed quite a daunting prospect and we were not sure how much support there would be to actually take on the responsibility for the day to day management and cleaning of the facility. After considerable discussion and debate we embarked on a consultation exercise by way of letter to every household. It was not an easy letter to write and it was necessary to pose a few questions to encourage people to think beyond their own personal needs to that of the wider community.
The response from residents was mixed and varied. A few people expressed apprehension that we would take responsibility for managing the public toilets. However, with the exception of one household, everybody agreed that we should do whatever we could to keep the toilets open even if they themselves did not feel able to be involved in the cleaning rota.
Other comments from residents were as follows:
- Public toilets are an essential service and we all need them
- The provision of public toilets should be integral to planning and tourism.
- The provision of an accessible toilet network is a public health issue and there should be a national strategy to support it.
- We need to support other national strategies that encourage outdoor pursuits aimed at improving general good health and well-being.
- If the toilets are closed we will have a big increase in wild toileting.
- We can't have a national cycle route pass through the village and no toilet facility.
- The public toilets are the window on our community. A community that cares about it's public toilets sends out a strong message about the type of community it is.
- The survival of our public toilets will impact on people's quality of life.
As a result of the letter, ten people expressed an interest in helping on the rota system.
It came as a surprise to many people to learn that whilst Local Authorities have a Power to provide public toilets they do not have a statutory duty to provide them. Importantly, this means that they do not receive any specific funding from the Scottish Government to provide them. As a result, both the Scottish and UK Governments recommend that Partnerships are developed in which, local businesses make provision or, in the case of rural villages like East Haven, the community.
We are very proud of our community and the 'Wee Gallery at the Heritage Point'.
Great People - Great Place
Any resident or member of the East Haven Heritage and Garden Group can display paintings on a maritime or flower theme in our 'wee gallery' (see Wendy)
We want to encourage as many people as possible to volunteer to help clean and maintain the 'wee gallery'. A daily payment is made to all volunteers.