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Public Toilets Up For Discussion at Council

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee will meet on Tuesday 17 September and will receive an update report on the Public Convenience Service Review.

Our Council has 58 public toilets dotted around the region, with the service requiring to save just shy of £100,000 before 31 March 2021. These toilets are vital to communities and visitors and range from big facilities such as Whitesands in Dumfries to remote free-standing buildings in the likes of Monreith in Wigtownshire. The service has already made a £20,000 saving in line with budget requirements but this report will look at ways to make the additional £100k saving in the next 12 to 18 months.

Extensive consultation has been held over the last couple of months, with two dozen community conversations taking place throughout the region, as well as a customer survey, and employee survey and local business meetings all taking place to seek views and options on how the facilities can work more efficiently. Over a thousand people completed our survey, be it customer or staff, and more than 300 members of the public turned out at the community conversations.

Members will be asked to agree at the meeting on 17 September, that a ‘comfort scheme’ is developed, whereby local businesses would allow members of the public to use their premises toilet(s), in return for a small financial incentive. This would allow the running cost of the public convenience to be removed for the Council.

Members will also be asked to consider offering community groups a similar financial incentive to take over the cleaning of public conveniences in their area. Other options that will be considered as part of the report include mobile cleaning of facilities, something that’s already in place in Wigtownshire, as well as the closure of some of the facilities that our consultation has shown are not well used.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Communities Committee Chairman, Cllr Andy Ferguson commented;
“This report highlights the jaw-dropping savings that need to be made in relation to public toilets. Our consultation has shown us how much the community depend on the vast majority of these conveniences, and I am pleased to read in the report that there’s various options for my fellow Members to explore to try to meet these savings. I would like to say thank you to each person who took part in the consultation – without you we could not be furnished with your opinions to aid us make these difficult decisions.”

Vice Chairman Cllr John Martin echoed Andy’s comments;
“Our public conveniences are well used and those who fed back to us via our survey were please with the facilities in terms of cleanliness. This is positive news for our Council. However, the cuts of nearly £100,000 is going to mean difficult decisions. I would urge any business interested in signing up to the comfort scheme or any community willing to take on one of our facilities, to get in touch.”

See report:

Council Say "Infrastructure Investment Vital For Region"

The Council’s Communities committee [17 September 2017] will consider a report on its Infrastructure Capital Programme 2019/20.

The Council agreed its capital budget for 2019/20 to 2021/22 in February 2019, with an indicative 10-year Capital Investment Strategy. The agreed funding allocations for the Infrastructure Asset Class are:
• 2019/20 £10.07m
• 2020/21 ££9.5m
• 2021/22 £9.5m

An additional £0.5m was allocated for planned structural overlays on roads for 2019/20 and 2020/21.

The Infrastructure Capital Programme 2019/20 includes:
• Carriageway surface dressing
• Carriageway resurfacing
• Carriageway strengthening
• Carriageway drainage
• Planned structural overlays [eliminating defects by surfacing short sections of carriageway, up to around 400m]
• Footways
• Forestry routes - this year, the Council was successful in 3 bids to the Strategic Timber Transport Fund resulting in £231,841 being awarded, enabling upgrades to local roads to accommodate increased forestry extraction.
• Car Parks – including Lockerbie Station
• Structures – including Carruthers Bridge [C61a], Langholm Suspension Footbridge, Wauchope Bridge [B7068a], Lamford Culvert [A713s]
• Harbours – seeking European Maritime Fisheries Fund contribution for Port William Harbour and Kirkcudbright Marina
• Coastal Infrastructure – Dyemill coastal protection, Drummore coastal road
• Flood Risk Management – Spoutwells [Stranraer], Carsphairn
• Street Lighting
• Intelligent Transport Systems
• Road Safety Programme
• Speed Limits and Traffic Calming
• Active Travel Programme

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “Over the next 3 years our Council is committed to spending more than £30m on projects to improve and maintain the region’s infrastructure, including roads. This expenditure is vital for local people, local communities, and the local economy.”

Councillor John Martin, vice-chair, said: “Improved travel links, roads maintenance, improved road safety, bridge repairs and appropriate parking facilities are key issues for this region if it is to be a place where people want to live, work and carry out business. Our capital programme for infrastructure is an essential contributor to this.”

See report:

Council To Spend £2.074m On Land Assets Across Region

The Council’s Communities committee [17 September 2019] will consider a report on the progress the Council’s Capital Investment Strategy 2019/20.

The agreed funding allocation for land assets is £2.074m, broken down as:
• Burial grounds maintenance/development £359,000
• Parks/gardens/allotments/amenity space £254,000
• Play areas/playing fields £124,000
• Regional Playpark Fund £500,000
• All-inclusive playparks £854,000
• Sports pitches £35,000
• Over-commitment in programme [£52,000]

Projects include:
• Mercat Cross, Wigtown – work starting October 2019
• New Dumfries Cemetery – full site landscaping proposal currently being done – followed by planning application
• Earl of Galloway Monument – listed building consent to be sought in October/November 2019
• Beechgrove Tennis Courts, Moffat – resurfacing of 6 courts and installation of floodlighting completed
• Inclusive Playparks – works at Stair Park, Stranraer; Douglas Park, Newton Stewart; Market Hill, Castle Douglas; Kirkland Drive, Kelloholm; Catherine Street, Dumfries; Weyroc Play Area, Annan; McJerrow Park, Lockerbie

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “With £2.074m to spend, the Land Asset investments from our Council’s Capital Investment Strategy deliver a significant impact across our region, improving local assets and wellbeing.”

Councillor John Martin, vice-chair, said: “This funding makes a major positive impact in our region, enabling us to maintain physical assets and deliver significant and much needed new projects.”

See report: 

Council Wants Improved Transport Infrastructure

The Council’s Communities committee [17 September 2019] will consider a report on the initial appraisal for the South West Scotland Transport Study.

The Council Plan 2017-22 includes a commitment to ‘invest in our key infrastructure’ and ‘lobby for investment in key local transport infrastructure including dualling, where appropriate, of the A75, A76, A77, A7 and a better link between Dumfries and the M74’.

The Scottish Government included a commitment to a second Strategic Transport Projects Review [STPR2] and road improvements in Dumfries in Galloway in its Programme for Government 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Data analysis and public/stakeholder engagement in the first stage in the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance [STAG] process, researching the case for investment, has identified evidence of key transport problems:
• Average journey times
• Mobility
• Journey time reliability
• Environmental impact

These findings have informed Transport Planning Objectives [TPOs] for South West Scotland:
• reduce journey times to the ports at Cairnryan
• reduce accident rates and the severity of accidents on the trunk road network
• improve the resilience of the strategic transport network
• improve journey quality across the road, public transport, and active travel networks
• improve connectivity for communities to key economic, education, health and cultural centres, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayr, Kilmarnock and Carlisle

Subsequently, a range of 23 option packages have been identified for further appraisal.

The next step is a qualitative options appraisal, assessing impacts, policy directives, feasibility, affordability, and public acceptability.

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “Building the local economy is a priority for our Council. For too long, South West Scotland has been overlooked when it comes to investment in transport infrastructure. If our region is to progress, thrive and prosper, it’s essential that we get our fair share of investment.”

Councillor John Martin, vice-chair, said: “Good transport links are essential for this region. Businesses and the public deserve better than some of the very poor transport links in our region. It is vital that we’re given the resources to improve transport links to Ireland, England and the Scottish central belt, otherwise we’ll be increasingly marginalised.”

See report:

DG1 Exceeds Expectations Says New Council Report

The Council’s Communities committee [17 September 2019] will consider a report outlining the success of DG1 in its first month of operation.

DG1 has had more than 53,000 attendances, customer satisfaction is 95%, and memberships have increased by 97%.

DG1 opened to the public on 15 July 2019, and during the first month of operation, attendances were:
Leisure pool 5,274
Main/teaching pool 17,500
Health suite 2,600
Fitness suite 20,600
Fitness classes 4,751
Sports hall 3,050

Memberships have increased by 901 [97%].

The leisure water was exceptionally popular during the school summer holiday.

Demand for fitness classes is been high at what is normally a quieter period of the year for indoor fitness activity.

Customer feedback through the Have Your Say scheme indicates that:
95% of respondents would recommend the facility to a friend
91% are delighted with activity quality
82% are delighted with staff welcome
95% are delighted with staff friendliness
92% are delighted with staff approachability

DG1 now has an on-line booking system for club members, enabling them to book fitness classes on-line.

On-line booking for activities is now being extended so than non-members can book on-line for the likes of leisure water sessions and other activities.

Also being introduced will be self-service fast track kiosks, enabling customers to pay for activities without having to interact with staff.

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chair of the Communities committee, said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the performance figures and customer satisfaction for DG1. The vindicate our Council in its decision to take the long haul to deliver the first-class leisure facility that the people of Dumfries and Galloway deserve.”

Councillor John Martin, vice-chair, said: “Now that we’re delivered a first-class leisure facility, it’s hugely pleasing to see how well that it is being used and that people think highly of it. It will be a major asset for the region for many years to come.”

See report: