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'Sat lav' app scheme could be rolled out in Burley
A “community toilet” scheme designed to make sure the public can still spend a penny when Bradford Council has to save its pennies could get the go ahead in the next few weeks.
The scheme was first mooted for Saltaire almost a year ago. Participating businesses would allow their toilets to be used by non-customers in return for publicity from Bradford Council.
Members of the public could find which toilets were available through their mobile phone – which has led to the scheme being dubbed “satlav”.
Although the council has admitted that so far only two businesses in the village have expressed an interest in getting involved the scheme, with a third pulling out earlier this year, a decision will be made on whether to press ahead at the end of the month.
If it turns out to be a success, the council plans to roll the scheme out in Burley.
The existing public toilets in Saltaire, on Caroline Street, are staffed and cost the authority £18,600 a year to run. The scheme was first proposed to make sure that toilets were still available to visitors of the World Heritage Site in light of council budget pressures, which could lead to reduced opening hours in future years.
The council’s Shipley Area Committee received an update on the scheme when they met at Kirklands Community Centre, Menston, last week. The committee took over running the toilets as a devolved service last year, and in total have to spend £124,600 on the eight public toilets in the Shipley constituency, which also includes Bingley, Baildon, Shipley, Burley and Menston.
David Ford, of Saltaire Bookshop, said: “Each individual shop will have their own view, but we’d be happy to offer our facilities to people. As a trader you want people to come into your shop. If people come in for other purposes they might then spend money when they are inside. It is an interesting and creative initiative to deal with a problem. If you’re at the top of the town it isn’t obvious where the public toilets are. I think this makes perfect sense.”
Other ways the council is looking to save money on toilet provision is through “greater citizen involvement”, which could see volunteers or local business owners recruited to open and close unmanned toilets at the start and end of each day. Currently the council has to pay an employee to do this.
A report to the committee says: “In addition to the increase in opening hours, we have found that having additional ‘eyes and ears’ helps us deal with any anti-social behaviour before it becomes established.”
Even if facilities are unmanned, the council pays over £4,000 a year per toilet in staff costs, and £1,600 in transport costs. The toilets in Burley, on Station Road, are unattended, but still cost the council £7,500 a year to maintain.
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