Having poked around in the Aberdeenshire Council website and looking at different meetings, agendas and minutes it appears that the closure of the public toilets at the Haughs isn’t such a surprise.
The Formartine Area Committee met on 8 December 2015, at the meeting item 14 on the agenda was
(EXEMPT) 14 – Review of the Public Convenience Strategy (note for those unfamiliar with council meetings, Exempt items are discussed behind closed doors with no public or press present. This is for a number of reasons and nothing should be read in to this.)
the minutes of the meeting tell us
14. REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC CONVENIENCE STRATEGY
There had been circulated a report by the Director of Business Services which updated members on the review of the Public Convenience Strategy.
Following a full debate, the Committee:-
(1) noted the contents of the report, and
(2) provided the following comments to the Infrastructure Services Committee:-
(a) If Comfort Partnerships were identified and current facilities were no longer required, what did the Council intend to do with the abandoned buildings and would there be an opportunity for them to be offered as some form of community benefit,
(b) There needed to be consideration of a contingency plan if Comfort Partnerships failed after current facilities were no longer available,
(c) There was an uneven coverage of facilities available across Aberdeenshire with a lack of uniform provision,
(d) Comfort Partnerships should only be set up within well established businesses,
(e) Was there scope for toilet attendants at Council facilities to be given additional duties,
(f) Could consideration be given to providing facilities within the Transport Hub at Fyvie, and
(g) Would it be possible for community groups to take over the running of facilities within their areas.
So a full debate took place about the Public Convenience Strategy, a full debate that Cllrs Duncan and Norrie would have been party to. Cllr Robertson offered apologies and did not attend the meeting. From what we can gather from the minutes of the meeting, no objection was made by our local councillors about the proposed closure.
Yet Cllr Duncan’s wife Kathleen made the following statement on Facebook last night
Sandy and I are surprised too and at the moment is trying to contact council offers for details. Speaking for myself this is an absolute nonsense and I would like to reverse this decision !
I’m not sure you can express surprise at something you were party to agreeing to, but..
The Public Convenience Strategy then went to the Infrastructures Services Committee in January and was approved, meaning the the toilets at the Haughs would not be opened after winter.
Here is the excerpt from the minutes of that meeting
19. REVIEW OF THE PUBLIC CONVENIENCE STRATEGY
With reference to the Minute of the Meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 18 September, 2008 (Item 16, Page 980) and the subsequent Minute of the Meeting of the Infrastructure Services Committee of 17 March, 2011 (Item 24, Page 1603), there had been circulated a report dated 15 October, 2015 by the Director of Business Services which presented to the Committee a Review of the Public Convenience Strategy for Aberdeenshire as presented in Appendix 1 to the report.
The report presented to the Committee the general approach to the Strategy and the financial impacts of those proposals which it was accepted would realise significant savings for the Council.
The Facilities Manager introduced the report and advised the Committee that Area Committees had been consulted on the proposals arising from the Strategy Review and
Officers would carefully consider those comments and discuss opportunities for communities to take over existing facilities paying due regard to the careful selection of comfort partnerships.
During discussion the Committee welcomed the report and noted that the strategy would be of great public interest and as such there would have to be meaningful engagement within communities and community councils. The Committee also sought assurance that as part of the careful selection of Comfort Partnerships that those partnerships were sustainable.
After due consideration, the Committee agreed:-
(1) To approve the Public Convenience Strategy as presented in Appendix 1 to the report;
(2) To authorise the reduction in attended hours at Public Conveniences to 2 hours per day to allow for cleaning only;
(3) To authorise the amendment of public convenience opening hours to 08.00 to 20.00 hours from April – September and 08.00 to 18.00 hours from October to March for all Council sites;
(4) To authorise the closure of 9 low use and or poor condition public conveniences as identified in Table 5, Appendix 1 to the report (Page 17);
(5) To authorise the closure of unattended public convenience in New Pitsligo where there was already a Comfort Partnership in place;
(6) To agree the refurbishment of the unattended public conveniences at Main Street, Laurencekirk and The Square, Mintlaw to be included in a future Capital Works programme;
(7) To agree to the wider promotion of Comfort Partnerships which should be sustainable and encouragement for local communities to manage facilities; and
(8) To agree that while it is the general intention to declare all existing closed toilets as surplus to requirements, discussions would be held with appropriate Area Committees in the first instance.
As you can see in point 4, nine low use or poor condition public conveniences were closed.
And that was it, the Haughs public toilets were never going to open in April.