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Councillor warns Golspie could lose its public toilets as vandals continue to strike

By Caroline McMorran

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Golspie could be left without its public toilets unless persistent vandalism is brought to an end, a local councillor has warned.

Cllr Richard Gale, who lives in the community, said Highland Council had signalled it is not prepared to keep shelling out funds for repairs and the facility would be closed if the vandalism could not be stopped.

“I do not need to spell out what the outcome would be of having a high number of summer visitors and no toilets,” he said.

Cllr Richard Gale said he would do "everything possible" to keep the toilets open.
Cllr Richard Gale said he would do "everything possible" to keep the toilets open.

The warning comes just weeks after his fellow East Sutherland and Edderton ward colleague Cllr Jim McGillivray expressed his disgust and anger at damage caused to the newly renovated toilets in Dornoch.

An increased £525 reward remains in place for information leading to the identification of those responsible.

Cllr Gale spoke out after months of vandalism to the well-used Golspie loos, located in a unique circular building at Fountain Road car park and considered to be one of the finest facilities in the Highlands.

It is thought that the vandals generally strike in the early evening – the toilets are open round the clock.

“Vandalism never used to be a problem but it started over the last year or so and has worsened in recent months," said Cllr Gale.

“The place is getting trashed almost on a daily basis. Every time soap and paper towel dispensers are replaced, they are ripped off the wall again,” he said. “A sink was smashed and the pay meters are no longer working because vandals stick things down the slot.

“Highland Council is starting to refuse to put any more money into the toilets and if they are not maintained to a certain standard, then they will close. I will do everything I possibly can to avoid this.

“It is a well used facility and we just cannot afford to lose it, but at the same time we cannot afford to keep on putting money into it if people do not respect it. It is such a shame to see the damage done.”

Cllr Gale believes local people could help get the message across that the toilets are a community facility.

“I think there are some people who will know who is responsible for the vandalism,” he said. “It needs to be pointed out to them that it is not a good thing to do. The toilets belong to the community and need to be looked after. It is not a ‘laugh’ to trash a toilet.”

He said he was prepared to look at any option, including closing the toilets, as happens in Dornoch, overnight. He is also reluctantly considering CCTV, although he said: "It worries me going down the route of having CCTV monitoring the village centre.”

The issue was discussed at Golspie Community Council on Monday evening when newly reelected chairman Ian Sutherland, a former police officer, said: “CCTV or a conviction for vandalism is the only way to stop it. The CCTV could be monitored from the police station - it is not that far.

“You could patrol there 40 times a day and you could still miss the vandalism happening. It is one of the most frustrating offences that people commit because you have to catch them doing it.”

The community council is to look into the cost of CCTV.

Cllr McGillivray told the Northern Times this week: “The reward now stands at £525 thanks to the input of civic-minded individuals, but I think the trail has gone cold. I followed up on one lead but that didn’t go anywhere."

Golspie public toilets are housed in a unique circular building.
Golspie public toilets are housed in a unique circular building.

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