Cllr Jason Rust - Colinton/ Fairmilehead ward
I was pleased to help facilitate the presence of representatives from Colinton Community Council, Colinton Tunnel, Colinton Amenity Association and Colinton Village Enterprise SCIO at the Full Council meeting on Thursday 29th April as a deputation for this item. This was the first virtual deputation Full Council had received “in person” as opposed to simply written submission since going online a year ago.
The four representatives made a first class, comprehensive case for the retention of the public convenience by the Council setting out the positive case while raising concerns around the process and lack of dialogue and information forthcoming from the City Council. I know from comments by colleagues from different political parties that it was very well received, even if the outcome was less than agreeable.
As before, my group voted to reject the reference in the report to the toilets not falling within the Council’s strategy and called for “Colinton Public Convenience to be retained and maintained as part of the Council’s strategy going ahead.” This was defeated by the SNP-Labour Council Administration.
Unfortunately the Administration decided that the Colinton loos do not form part of the Council’s own strategy going ahead and voted to to go down the route of exploring a Community Asset Transfer (CAT), despite the local deputations previously making some very eloquent points questioning the feasibility of CAT. My own concerns are that given there has been no there has been no consultation or engagement to date that does not bode well for future discussion about a CAT. However, the Convener has agreed to host a meeting with local stakeholders to discuss in early course and I will be part of that.
I do have a nervousness that if we go down the CAT route and it does not progress that the Council will use that as an excuse to say, there is not community interest in the retention of the loos, but that may be me being cynical! I certainly do not see much appetite for a CAT of the public conveniences, but will approach this constructively. A CAT in the context of public conveniences as some have pointed out, is normally in the context of closed/derelict buildings and not this type of situation.
Even if a CAT is not progressed there is the possibility left that the convenience could be retained by the Council, but out with its strategy. No doubt after a lot of time and money has been spent exploring the CAT! That would still be welcome, but I do fear if held separate to the rest of the Council estate, the toilets become vulnerable in future budgets.
On that basis and due to the lack of information presented and on which the Administration made its decision yesterday, I am still pursuing the issue of how Colinton alone does not fit in with the Council’s strategy.
As matters develop I will keep you informed and will work closely with our local community groups to do the best we can in the circumstances. There is some coverage in the Evening News: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/people/what-a-relief-for-edinburgh-as-council-agrees-ps5-million-public-toilets-plan-3219832