Ian Williamson
Cramond & Barnton Community Council
17 Cramond Village
Edinburgh EH4 6NS

Councillor Andrew Burns
City of Edinburgh Council
City Chambers
High Street

22 December 2014

Dear Councillor Burns

Risk of Closure to Public Conveniences in Cramond Village

It was during the course of last few weeks that media reports began to emerge which revealed that the Council will be considering proposals which may see the closure of a number of public conveniences across the city and including within a number of suburbs. These are part of the considerations which the Council will be progressing as it strives to close the funding gap to its budget for 2015/16 and beyond. The Community Council has submitted a separate formal response in accordance with the consultation process which the Council promulgated in order to stimulate public interest in the Budget process. This letter comes to you as Council Leader so that you are sighted on the views of our Community Council on the possible closure of the public convenience in Cramond.

The Cramond and Barnton Community Council recognise the need for the Council to take steps to balance the books but believe that it also needs to takes into account the possible detrimental affect which such closures may have on visitor numbers to some of the localities which may be under consideration.

There is only one public convenience in Cramond and while it may be in need of upgrading the existing facility is better than no facility. Thousands of visitors come down into Cramond Village and the promenade and local walkways every year. There are organised sporting and recreational events many of which either begin or pass through Cramond. Only last week we were asked by the Council’s Parks Department to offer any comment we may have on the 2015 Kiltwalk – one element of which begins on the promenade (next to the toilets) – and which supports childrens charities across Scotland. Every Saturday morning there is what is known as the Park Run which again begins on the promenade. As someone whose house has a gable end that looks across towards the toilets I can assure you that there are significant numbers amongst the participants for whom the first port of call before running is the public convenience.

We note from the reports that the Council has hopes of working with local retailers and coffee shops etc to encourage them to open their toilets to the public. Cramond has no shops and there is only one coffee shop – the Bistro. We used to have a post office which supported and enabled a general store but despite the efforts of the Community that was allowed to close. There are shops at the Barnton; you will find some with notices saying they do not have toilets available for general public use but suggesting that there are public toilets on Cramond foreshore.

The Community Council puts in a lot of effort in working closely with the West Neighbourhood
partnership in striving to improve the environment and amenity within the area. The Council has recently given approval for the CC to progress plans for the introduction of a chain pier to restore the ability of people to cross to Dalmeny and walk or cycle along to South Queensferry.

A preferred option has emerged for the replacement of the Salvesen Steps on the River Almond Walkway – an option which is likely to increase the numbers of walkers and cyclists enjoying the walkway between Cramond and Cramond Brig. The Council should not underestimate the value which Cramond brings to supporting healthy lifestyles.

We would therefore encourage the Council to look to other means by which:

• the running costs of sustaining these toilets which support visitor numbers to communities can be reduced;

• the running costs may be defrayed by charging at entrance; or

• there may be scope for securing financial support from private enterprise perhaps through advertising so that they can be maintained (and improved).

The Community Council is particularly disappointed at such considerations about the possible closure of the public convenience coming at a time when we are being encouraged (David Leslie’s letter to me of 4 December 2014 refers) to continue to work closely with officers in the West Neighbourhood Team to address issues covered in the shared Cramond and Barnton Community Council Action Plan. Included within the Action Plan is the requirement to address the need for a disabled public toilet.

A few months ago I read an article in the papers reporting an incident where a man driving a Jaguar in Colinton was seen to get out of his car to urinate in a private garden before getting back into his car. The tenor of the article was that the act was reprehensible. What is more reprehensible is for the Council to be creating a situation where such behaviours become the norm. People are living longer but that means that more are enduring chronic conditions including for example men with prostate problems, including prostatis and cancer. Women with urological challenges often exacerbated by child-bearing. For some of these people where and when they go out will be determined by their understanding of where they will have access to toilets. At this time of year successive Chief Medical Officers will as a rule encourage people including older people to wrap up well and get out of their homes, to get fresh air and to thereby minimise the risk of becoming a victim of Seasonal Acquired Disorder Health and Social Care are meant to be working more closely together. Don’t let that be empty rhetoric.

I will forward a copy of this letter to our local Councillors and other relevant officers of the Council.

We ask that you and those others who will influence the detailed decisions on the Budget and including these services recognize the unique position of Cramond in this regard.

Have a Happy Christmas and a Healthy – and hopefully prosperous – New Year.

All the best,

Ian D Williamson

Cramond and Barnton Community Council