• 2020 - Scotland's Year of Coasts and Water

  • Landward presenter Arlene Stuart in East Haven

  • Climate Change and Pollution

Landward

Some of you might have seen East Haven public toilets featured on BBCs Landward last week. You can catch up on Episode 21 via this link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006m994 If there is one thing the pandemic has highlighted it is the way access to a toilet controls all our lives no matter what age we are. Any concerns we had about opening the toilets in the middle of a pandemic were quickly eliminated as the public were extremely supportive and very appreciative. It really has been a pleasure to provide such an important public service during this challenging year. We have even managed to display a few of our paintings in recent weeks. The photo shows Landward Presenter, Arlene Stuart chatting to Wendy outside the Ladies. Socially distancing of course! 

The toilets can open if we work together to keep everybody safe

East Haven Together has worked closely with Angus Council to enable the safe opening of the public toilets from 9am to 6pm daily. We have met all the requirments from Public Health Scotland on the management of unattended public toilets and exceeded them in some areas. The 'Wee Gallery' will look different as there are no paintings or flowers for the time being.  Only one cubicle is open in each facility and only one person or family is allowed in at any one time. 2m distance markers have been installed outside to assist queuing. Visitors are asked to use the touch free hand sanitisers before and after using the facility. Our volunteers will also be more visible and regular cleaning will take place throughout the day. If we work together and get it right then we keep everybody safe and the toilets will remain open. 

  • Only one person or one family is allowed into the facility at a time

  • We are asking people to use the 'No Touch' hand sanitiser before using the facility

  • Social distancing markers to assist queuing outside

An Uncomfortable Truth

The phased move out of lockdown has brought the issue of public toilet provision into sharp focus. A decade of austerity has seen the network of public toilets across the UK decimated as Local Authorities cut services they do not have a legal duty to provide. In Angus, the Local Authority entered into partnership agreements with local communities such as East Haven to manage their own public toilets in exchange for a small grant. In countries such as New Zealand, free public toilets are available across towns, cities, rural settlements and even roadside viewing points. Given that the country is a similar size to the UK, it sets an example of what can be achieved to support health and well-being, tourism and local economies. Like the East Haven toilets, they are highly valued, always clean, well stocked and free from vandalism. In 2020, the pandemic has forced the closure of public toilets across the UK due to concerns about spreading the virus. Public Health have advised Local Authorities that toilets are high risk areas and must remain closed. During phase 1 and 2 of lockdown when people were asked not to travel more than 5 miles to a beauty spot there should have been time for individuals to return home to use facilities when nature called. However, across Scotland the public have travelled longer distances and chosen to urinate and defecate across both public and private areas. Those behaving in this way represent all ages and all sectors of society. The behaviour is on such a scale that it risks polluting water courses and introducing other public health problems. Unless the Government is able to support the re-opening of public toilets soon the issue will only intensify as we move into phase 3 in early July. This issue is an uncomfortable fact but one which deserves some wider reflection and consideration. It has highlighted that using the toilet is a basic human need shared by everyone. For some such as pregnant women and those with health conditions, the need for public toilets is even greater. It stands to reason that if facilities are closed then people either have to stay close to their own facilities or make the decision that they will relieve themselves wherever and whenever the need arises. Maybe now is the time for the Scottish Government to reconsider the importance of public toilets in modern Scottish Society. Let’s be more like New Zealand and make it a legal duty to provide them and not just a discretionary power. Let's see a network of clean, well managed public toilets right across the country and encourage people to enjoy and respect our beautiful landscape and the wider environment. 

Wee Gallery at the Heritage Point

The humble public toilets in East Haven have become known as the 'Wee Gallery' after residents assumed responsibility for the cleaning and management of them in a partnership with Angus Council. This is an example of Pride in Place at its best when communities pull out all the stops to support the needs of visitors to the area. In East Haven we believe strongly that a network of rural public toilets should be maintained across Scotland to enable people of all ages to access the outdoors. Public toilet provision links not just to tourism and the economy but to Health and Well-Being. They also support workers who are not office based. The toilets are well used by bus drivers, delivery men, utility workers and Council and NHS staff.  Donations from the public enable residents to provide fresh flowers, soap, hand towels and hand cream. Residents and friends hang their own original paintings on the walls to create a homely and welcoming facility.

Comments Wee Gallery 2019

Find out what visitors to East Haven said in 2019

Comments Wee Gallery 2016

Find out where our visitors come from in 2016 and what they said about our public toilets

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. 

www.toilettwinning.org

  • Before

  • After

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.

  • A note of appreciation left in the 'wee gallery'

Report

'Wee Gallery' at the Heritage Point
A Community Partnership with Angus Council
Evaluation of our first year