ENSURING visitors to a tourism magnet can easily spend a penny while in the area is vital to maintaining the lifeline industry, it has been claimed.
The prospect of public toilets at Dornie Community Hall, near iconic Eilean Donan Castle, closing has horrified local activists who have been asked if they’re willing to take full responsibility for the facilities.
Highland Council has given notice that after August, it intends ending an agreement, in place since 2011, to meet the costs of the toilets being open to the public.
They’re well used by visitors to the castle and with coach tours, HGVs and holidaymakers. The prospect of unpaid volunteers accepting full responsibility for running and cleaning them has not gone down well with the hall committee claiming that what the council offers under its care and comfort scheme would not cover even one-third of the present costs.
Hall chairman Donald Finlayson said: "The council have said that a charge of 50p could be made for use of the toilets, but without major alterations to the building this could not be achieved; in fact it may not be possible at all. In any case, it would take at least a year to install the necessary structure."
He fears a potential health hazard without toilets and says a petition has been started
Ward councillor Biz Campbell, who lives in the area, said that when Dornie Hall got lottery funding to refurbish, new toilets were incorporated so they could be open to the public. It was agreed Highland Council would maintain and clean them and pay for electricity.
She said: "They have now got word from the council to terminate this agreement and offer the hall committee £300 per month to run the toilets. The hall committee do not wish to become employers and put in devices which would charge. Those devices would be very expensive and could not be fitted without alterations to the hall.
"They have no objection to the council doing this and let them be the employer. Those toilets are extremely busy all summer being opposite Eilean Donan Castle and are essential for the sustainability of tourists. Eilean Donan Castle is the most iconic building in Scotland and famous all over the world. Tourism is the largest employer in the Highlands. There are toilets at Invermoriston but Kyle has no parking for tourist buses or cars so it is imperative we keep Dornie toilets open for the sustainability of tourism in the Highlands."
A spokeswoman for Highland Council noted the facility is already in community ownership and that the local authority had a third party agreement to arrange for cleaning and stocking.
She said a "comfort "scheme" for them to continue to open their facilities to the public had been offered with responsibility for cleaning and stocking being passed on.
She said: "If they do not wish to accept this then the facility would close and we would look for an alternative comfort scheme in the area. It would not be the council closing the site as it is not our facility."
Highland Council is trying to identify savings but insists it wants to work with local communities to find solutions.