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Council considering paying businesses annual fee to give public free access to toilets

ABC Council has considered feedback including working model run by Derry and Strabane District Council

ABC Council is considering signing up to a community toilet scheme, where businesses in the borough could be paid an annual fee to make their loos available to the public.

Several other councils in other areas are already signed up to such a scheme.

And now ABC Council’s environmental services committee – sitting tonight (Tuesday) – will consider exploring a similar move.

Feedback has been sought from some of the other councils who have the scheme up and running, including two in Northern Ireland – Mid and East Antrim Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council operates 19 toilet facilities. They are currently considering the closure of one facility and are in advanced discussions with local businesses interested in starting a community toilet scheme.

Derry City & Strabane District Council launched its community toilet scheme in April last year and currently have 14 participating businesses.

In that instance, businesses are required to display a window sticker provided by council, indicating they are participating in the scheme and the level of facilities available.

The community toilet scheme is a partnership between Derry City and Strabane District Council and local businesses across the council area which allows members of the public to use their facilities for free during normal opening hours without having to make a purchase.

The initiative ensures that clean, safe and easily accessible toilets are available to the public at no cost.

Participating businesses are paid an annual fee by council based on the facilities they have available.

Two toilet facilities have been closed since the launch of this scheme but were earmarked for closure prior to this due to ongoing vandalism.

Businesses providing separate facilities for male, female, disabled and baby changing would receive a higher rate of payment than a business who provides just one unisex toilet.

Whilst businesses must make their toilet facilities available to members of the public, they retain the right to refuse entry to anyone who would normally be refused entry to the premises. They must also have public liability insurance.

ABC Council is now considering a similar set-up.

If councillors agree to scope out the implementation of a community toilet scheme, discussions could take place with businesses which may be interested as early as February.

A report would be brought back to committee detailing numbers interested and costs associated with implementation.

Councillors will then be asked to decide whether or not to proceed.

Committee tonight will be asked to direct whether or not such a scheme is worth investigating.

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