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Fife Council accused of being ‘slow off the mark’ in reopening public toilets

Kingsbarns Beach is a particular hotspot.
Kingsbarns Beach is a particular hotspot.

An influx of visitors to Fife beauty spots and “disgusting” mess left behind over the weekend has led to calls for public toilets to be reopened as a matter of urgency.

Residents have complained to Fife Council after an easing of coronavirus restrictions prompted people to flock to tourist hotspots with tents and campervans.

Concerns have centred around parts of north east Fife, in particular Kingsbarns Beach where there were were reports of visitors leaving human waste in the surrounding area.

East Neuk independent councillor Linda Holt said she had been inundated with complaints and had been told by Fife Council that the toilets were still closed because there were no outside contractors available to help get them reopened.

However, she said other authorities, such as Highland Council, had managed to restore its services.

“The truth is Fife Council was very slow off the mark in anticipating the end of lockdown as far as tourism needs are concerned and the provision of public toilets has not been a priority for years,” she said.

“Communities in tourist areas have repeatedly asked for more toilets or extended opening hours and these have largely fallen on deaf years as public toilet provision has instead been on the frontline for cuts.”

A number of people took to social media to highlight their views over the weekend, including East Neuk resident Aileen Higginson who said: “It’s actually all quite disgusting.”

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment at Fife Council, said the intention was to open toilets over the next couple of weeks.

He said: “The challenge we have is getting our water quality contractor, IWS, to fit the toilets into their programme of testing across all council buildings.

“All toilets need their systems flushed, some of which we can do ourselves if they are mains fed. For those with a tank we have to use a specialist contractor to flush the system.

“Getting toilets open in our main footfall areas is a priority for us and I am currently waiting on dates for when IWS can attend.”

He said the council was dealing with toilets where it can flush the system itself, adding: “There is a lack of resource across the UK for water testing and treatment as all local authorities and private business are in the same boat.”

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