THE fate of the region’s public toilets is set to be revealed within the next six months.

Last year, Scottish Borders Council voted to explore the privatisation of its public toilets after a damning report revealed that the decision to begin charging 30p for toilet access had netted just a third of its target.

The30p charge for using 27 of the council’s public toilets in the Borders was agreed by a full council meeting in February 2018, following a report where officers assured members that charging for toilet provision would generate an income of £280,000 a year.

However, the total yearly income was just £89,000, leading councillors to vote to consider privatisation as an option for future toilet provision.

Officers have been working to identify potential third parties which could take over the network, and they have been consulting with a private company which could oversee the design and maintenance of public toilets in the Borders.

Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison, who serves as the authority’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, told a meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday that work was ongoing.

He said: “Officers continue to work with community groups across the Borders who have expressed an interest in operating this type of facility.

“At the same time, officers are continuing to develop conversations around procurement options, internally, to then engage with third parties externally

“We expect the outcome of that process will conclude in the latter part of this year.

“This will allow members to consider which direction they may wish to take over the service’s future.”

Scottish Borders Council has also published a procurement notice on the Public Contracts Scotland website, asking for interested companies to contact the local authority.

East Berwickshire councillor Helen Laing, who originally asked for the update to be brought before the full council meeting, asked in response: “I’ve had two complaints about the condition of public toilets within my ward.

“One said that the Eyemouth toilets have not been cleaned to a satisfactory condition and were described as ‘disgusting’, while the toilets in Coldstream were mentioned in a Tripadvisor review which said the user had to wade through waters, the toilet wouldn’t flush, the sink was out of order and the disabled toilet was locked.

“The Berwickshire tourist initiatives are making great strides to improve the number of visitors to East Berwickshire and we are being let down by absolutely basic facilities.

“Can the neighbourhoods member assure us that immediate steps will be taken to improve the condition of our public toilets before the tourist season gets into full swing?”

To which councillor Aitchison replied: “As we receive reports then we deal with them. So therefore if there is defects then we need to know about them, so please contact us.

“The fact is that this is a challenge, this is a historical issue we’re trying to deal with and other authorities in Scotland have simply locked the door and that creates other problems. We are dealing with this, as we agreed previously.”