VISITORS to Peebles are being forced to hold as the public toilets nearest the town centre remain closed.

The decision to shut the School Brae toilets because the coin mechanisms are broken has riled Peebles Community Council.

The paid-for public loos located in close proximity to the High Street are subject to frequent attacks of vandalism.

But Chairman of Peebles Community Council Lawrie Hayworth says regardless of whether the three locks are inoperable the toilets should be left open for the public to use freely.

He added: “There was a contractor with superglue fixer on the van and obviously he was looking at something electrical so I assumed it was the locks.

"He then locked all the toilets and put out of use on them.

"I happened to be spending quite a bit of the day at the School Brae community hub and I had 12 people come in at my invitation to use the loos.

“Jason Hedley from Scottish Borders Council sent on my concerns that they were all locked and he stated that if anything could be done to help then it would have been.

"That didn’t help the people who actually needed to go to the loo. Also he was very thankful that there were two other facilities in Peebles one at the Eastgate and one at Kingsmeadows Road, which I’m sure was really helpful for those people that were visiting the town and didn’t have a little map of where our conveniences were.”

Mr Hayworth said a notice should be erected directing the public and visitors to other toilet facilities in the town.

He added: “I couldn’t see why we couldn’t have them open during the day and have free entry.

"I know the concern is about vandalism but this is very unlikely to happen before seven o’ clock in the evening.”

Retiring community councillor Lesley Morrison said the public toilets were “illogical and unfriendly”.

She added: “It’s hard to understand why the mechanisms need to be quite so complex.

"This business of charging 30p, presumably the cost of fixing these complicated mechanisms outweighs the cost of what is collected in.

“There is one particular resident Juliet Norris who feels so strongly about this that she has left a collection of 20 and 10 pences with one of the shops in School Brae, so if they see someone wanting to go into the toilet and they don’t have the money they are given this.”

Mr Hayworth acknowledged this was a very “publicly spirited” action but added: “We need to discuss how we provide facilities for our visitors and our older residents in the town who can get caught short.”

Councillor Robin Tatler said he is investigating the costs of getting the locks fixed but would report the community council’s views to officers.