More than £3million is going to be spent on upgrading a number of public toilets across East Devon, saving the council thousands of pounds on running costs for years to come.

More than £3million is going to be spent on upgrading a number of public toilets across East Devon, saving the council thousands of pounds on running costs for years to come.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is planning to use a substantial amount of capital investment to ensure the district has the best, most modernised loos, located in the right place, that cost less money to run while also maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness.

The consultation is running for the next eight weeks and closes at 5pm on Friday, 1 October 2021

The authority can’t continue to operate all the public toilets as they currently are, so is also investigating the locations and potential alternative uses for some sites, to make best use of what there is.

Residents are now being asked to share their views in a consultation on the project that looks at how much the public toilets are used at different locations, possible alternative uses, some of which could include public toilets provided by businesses or organisations – such as a café with a public toilet or another community facility.

The idea for ‘pay-to-use’ public conveniences is also being put forward – this could help pay for the running costs of the toilets that are important for residents and tourists alike.

There has been a lack of investment and refurbishment of the toilets over the years and now the majority of these facilities are difficult to maintain, to clean and many require major improvement works. The recent public health emergency has highlighted that our facilities are very difficult to maintain to the new high standard of cleanliness and hygiene that users now expect.

Due to reductions in central Government funding, over the past 10 years, EDDC is facing a £3million funding gap in 2022, unless it changes the way it operates some services.

In 2019 £473,000 was spent running the public convenience service. This provided 30 public toilet sites, 26 owned and operated by the council and four maintained for others.

It amounts to an average of £15,786 a year to directly look after each toilet block, this includes the maintenance of the toilets and providing water, toilet rolls, cleaning them twice a day and management costs.

You can find out more about other costs such as depreciation of the capital assets and recharges in our Cabinet Report here.

The council has also looked into using a third party contractor, to help with the maintenance and services, but thorough investigations showed it would cost less to keep the service ‘in house’.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment said:  

We know that public toilets are important to residents and vital to our visitor economy, and an emotive subject, which is why we are asking for your views, so we understand what you consider is important. 

Most of our public toilets are now requiring major updating and over the last 40 years there has been considerable changes to the areas they are located in, so a total reappraisal is now required of where toilets are required and what facilities are important for residents and visitors.   

We plan to invest £3million in our toilets to create top class, premier facilities to be proud of, which can address the imbalance in equal access for all, to provide a level of toilet provision within a reasonable walking distance, incorporate adult changing spaces in some prime locations and make better use of some locations for other community use, such as café’s or spaces that still incorporate a public access toilet, such as the Hideaway Café in Seaton. 

We have to look at doing something differently as we can no longer afford to continue with the status quo, and we believe the proposals we have put forward offer the best balance of high quality accessible public toilets, additional uses that would be a benefit and provide a service that is sustainable for the future.

Please read our proposals and use the online consultation so we know what you would like.

Tell us what you think about our proposals by filling in the online questionnaire by visiting www.eastdevon.gov.uk/publictoiletreview   

If you need a copy of the consultation on paper or in any other format, please contact us to discuss your needs by email: publictoiletreview@eastdevon.gov.uk or call 01395 517569.