A PETITION calling for Scottish Borders Council to reopen West Linton’s public toilets has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

The local authority shut loos across the region in March 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions.

But residents in the Peeblesshire village say the decision has “affected vulnerable members of the community”.

And they are calling on the council to ‘unlock the lavvy’, as COVID rules ease.

At the time of publication the online petition had 768 signatures; while the paper version had reached 450.

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Ian Reid, who is one of the campaigners, said: “This has highlighted how essential public toilets are.

“They’re not just an add-on extra. They’re an integral part of the community.

“The petition has got people thinking about the importance of public services. We still have a way to go though.

“The closure affects different people in different ways.

“The most troubling thing is it’s affecting vulnerable members of the community – people with disabilities or underlying health conditions need the toilets to be accessible.”

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Mr Reid says that the campaigners aren’t looking to “score points” against the local authority.

He added: “I appreciate it’s difficult. I think the eye’s been taken off the ball, mistakes happen.

“It [the pandemic] has been a hard time for them [SBC].”

A spokesperson for the council told the Peeblesshire News: “All SBC operated public toilets were originally closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Whilst COVID-19 restrictions are now easing, the precautions taken to prevent the spread of the virus are not.

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“Scottish Government guidance continues to advise that there remains a need to continue the enhanced management and cleaning regimes already in place and consequently this impacts resources available to the council.

“We understand that there is a desire to re-open other public toilet facilities across our communities as tourism increases and we are considering innovative ways to deliver services such as these.

“We are currently working with several communities who are undertaking trials of community operated facilities and comfort schemes to widen access to public conveniences and we intend to bring a further report on public toilets to council in Autumn.

“Where an established community group wishes to re-open and operate any other public toilet, officers can discuss opportunities available to them.

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“However given the enhanced COVID-19 regimes, there are no additional resources available to allow any further public toilets to be re-opened at this time.

“Officers will continue to monitor use of public facilities and will bring a report back to council when and if the government COVID-19 guidance changes.”

Mr Reid says members of the community have banded together to come up with temporary solutions to the closed toilets.

He added: “There are lots of people quietly doing their bit in the background to buy time for the public toilets to be open.

“There are plenty willing in the community to help with the creation of solutions.

“It takes a village to get the toilets open again.”

To view the online petition, click here.