Agenda item


(A report by Martin Potts, Principal Officer, Bereavement & Cleaning)


The Committee received an update from the Principal Officer, Bereavement & Cleaning on the Council’s provision of public toilets, as requested by Members following their tour of the facilities during a general tour of the town centre. 


The Council operated three public toilet sites, now funded by BTAC, all located within the town centre: Lincoln Lane, Central Park and Wide Bargate (Cattle Market).  Details of provision at each site, opening hours, staffing and operational issues were set out in the report. 


The facilities had been refurbished four years ago and payment mechanisms had been installed charging 20p.  This charge had created an income stream of around £23,000 per annum and had reduced antisocial behaviour, particularly vandalism and drug-related behaviour.


The Prosperous Boston Task and Finish Group had identified a need for increased public toilets provision in the town, a positive outcome of which was the introduction of a Community Toilets Scheme (CTS), which currently involved Oldrids, St. Botolph’s Church and ASDA.  The availability and location of all 6 facilities were published on the Council’s website.


The level of formal complaints about the Council’s toilet facilities was low.  However, although the reporting and follow-up system had been strengthened and there were currently fewer issues, problems still occurred almost daily. Attendants dealt with minor repairs; more complex repairs were resolved as quickly as practical using the Council’s nominated contractor within existing budgets.  All the facilities suffered petty vandalism and theft (toilet rolls and soap), particularly the disabled persons’ facilities.


Entry doors were frequently broken due to attempted forced entry and income was lost whilst repairs were organised.  Coin mechanisms were troublesome due to their frequency of use and the specialist parts took quite a while to obtain.  Also, attendants often found entry doors wedged open by users to allow others free entry.


Entry to disabled persons’ facilities was by use of a RADAR key, obtained from the Council upon proof of eligibility, allowing access to facilities 24-hours a day. However, it was impossible for the Council to control access, as the keys were available on the internet and could be cut to pattern.  Subsequently, the facilities were often used by rough sleepers overnight, and sometimes during the day, and drug users tended to use them.


Annual income for 2016/17 from the three Council facilities was £23,000, equating to around 115,000 users per year.  As at the end of October, income was on course to be down by approximately £2,000 against the previous year, which could be due to downtime of paying mechanisms or increased usage of the CTS toilets.


It was pointed out that usage of the CTS facilities could not be monitored and that the unusually high water usage relating to the Central Park toilets was being investigated.


In response to questions, it was reported that the Waterfall Plaza had originally participated in the CTS scheme, but had since withdrawn from it and now charged for the use of their facilities.  The impact of the CTS scheme had not been officially assessed; anecdotally, the church had mentioned there had been a few more visitors who had then looked around.  Feedback had not been received from members of the public about difficultly accessing toilet facilities; cubicles at Central Park were compact, but people could use the disabled persons’ facilities if the attendant was present or use the toilets at Wide Bargate. 


Members commended the provision of facilities, but expressed concern about vandalism.  Various suggestions were put forward for consideration, though one Member urged caution in terms of potential costs.  It was agreed that details and costings be investigated and circulated to Members or reported back to the Committee at a future meeting.


Action: MP

To report back to Members on the following –

1.    The details and costings of:

·         Provision of CCTV cameras outside toilet facilities;

·         Anti-vandal toilets, sinks and soap/toilet roll dispensers;

·         Improvement to general water usage, e.g. eco-systems, in terms of impact of cost and impact on the environment;

·         Alternative door mechanisms that may be more robust and save money;

·         The possibility of adding locks to disabled persons’ toilets to reduce use by rough sleepers.

2.    The outcome of the trial period of opening Central Park 24 hours a day;

3.    Consideration of a further round of communications with businesses regarding the CTS scheme.

Supporting documents: