COMMUNITY: Proposal to increase accessible toilets in West Dunbartonshire

By Bill Heaney

The reluctance of local authorities to spend money on public toilets appears to have dissipated.

When ever proposals to do so came up at council meetings in the past, they inevitably caused a stir.

We had debates over “the golden bogs” in the College Street Vennel which attracted national attention — and even brought the BBC Tonight programme’s famous reporter Fyfe Robertson, pictured right,  to the town.

The cost was £28,000, a fortune in those far off ‘Fifties, to open a new, manned toilet complex in Quay Street and people asked did it have gold chains attached to the cisterns.

Then there was a major row over public toilets on the Common which the then council decided required some fancy artchitecture and a copper roof and which was immediately dubbed “the Ayatollah’s air raid shelter”.

The fact that this toilet was close to Dumbarton Central railway station did not detract from the need to provide a place where people could “spend a penny”. It simply made no difference.

The toilets in Dumbarton Central – and every other railway station I recall visiting – were always “bogging”.

And the “air raid shelter” and “golden bogs” were always immaculate under the guardianship of John Gibson and Charlie Harkins, who did the occasional tailoring alterations in his downtime.

The old public toilets at Havoc in Dumbarton were bogging before they were knocked down.

And some were used as meeting places for questionable characters who lurked creepingly in the gloaming.

But not now, it seems. Councillors appear to have accepted that members of the public do get “caught short” from time and have agreed to request additional  money from the budget to enhance the provision of Changing Place Toilets in West Dunbartonshire.

And what’s more they have earmarked £100,000 as the price of providing them which is probably marginally more than the cost of a new kitchen.

We can only hope these will prove to be more efficient than the ones currently down the Quay wshere people are so terrified that the automatic doors will suddenly fly open and leave them exposed to people passing in the street.

I am told there is no requirement for laxatives in those toilets.

And that CPT facilities provide larger, accessible toilets, “to address the needs of people who have profound and multiple physical disabilities and learning difficulties”.

As well as providing additional space, they contain equipment including hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough room for carers to assist.

While a number of CPTs are available in learning environments across West Dunbartonshire, the additional funding will be used to introduce publicly available facilities.

The proposed locations for the toilets are at Balloch Bus Stance toilets;  the Concord Community Centre; Dalmuir Community Centre; and  Clydebank East Community Centre.

A further period of survey will be undertaken at these sites, with building warrant applications required for the locations.

 It is proposed that the projects would be completed in financial year 2022/23.

Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “For many people who have physical challenges and disabilities, standard toilet accommodation is totally inadequate or impractical to use.

“CPTs provide a better quality of life for people and allow them and their carers to plan activities with confidence in the areas where these facilities are located.”

He didn’t say that they woulkd also be welcomed by people who just wantedd a quick pee – in private.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “The proposed introduction of these Changing Place Toilets across our areas would make a huge difference to people who, for a number of reasons, struggle to use existing public facilities.

“I feel strongly that if we make this budget commitment, we are making an important investment that allows us to support individuals to live independently and with dignity.”

The proposed £100,000 budget request will be considered at a future Council meeting.

Hat tip to Jimmy Grylls

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