PUBLIC toilets in Argyll and Bute must be reopened as soon as possible to cope with increased visitor numbers, councillors have said.

More clarity is also being sought on the restoration of several council services after the announcement that Scotland could move out of lockdown ahead of schedule.

Argyll and Bute Council’s business continuity committee (BCC) heard at its meeting via Skype on Thursday, June 25 that officers were currently revising plans – and that some toilets in the area could open next weekend.

The debate took place the day after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advised that the five-mile travel limit is set to be scrapped from Friday, July 3.

Other changes to lockdown restrictions are also proposed if the Covid-19 infection rate continues to decrease.

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Councillor Robin Currie told the meeting: “It would be quite good if we had a timeline compared with the Scottish Government route map.

“It would be useful to know what the dates are for opening up our council services.

"After all the announcements made by the First Minister yesterday, I think we need to push on with things.

“I cannot miss out on the opportunity to raise public toilets. Yesterday’s announcement included that as of next week, people can travel throughout Scotland, and to holiday homes and self-catering units.

“So there will be a lot more people about – what are our plans?”

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Kirsty Flanagan, the authority’s interim executive director, said: “Officers are currently revising their plans as and when we know dates.

"I know toilets have been high on Councillor Currie’s agenda and that is something we are actively working on.

“We hope we can open some toilets – not all, but some – from next weekend. We are working through that just now.”

No mention was made of any particular public toilets which could reopen from next weekend.

Chief executive Pippa Milne then added: “Officers are working on the road map in relation to services that need to restart, and we will give as much to members as we can towards the end of next week.

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“If there are developments beyond that, we will keep newsletters coming out to members as and when required.

“We have no formal meetings, but we have the facility to convene a leadership meeting should we need any decisions made.

“I think we are getting to a period where it is much clearer what steps are going to be taken and we need to be clearer on how that affects us.”

Councillor Alastair Redman, who is not a member of the BCC but listened in via Skype, called for more to happen to bring Scotland out of lockdown.

He said: “I completely agree with Councillor Currie, not only on opening up of public conveniences.

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"Just yesterday I spoke to a delivery driver who travels from the central belt to Campbeltown and said that the lack of public conveniences is a real problem for him.

“I’ve also spoken to other men and women who have had problems. I understand the council is spinning a lot of plates, but more people will inevitably come to rural Argyll. We have to be ready and public conveniences must be reopened.

“I thought lockdown was put in place to stop the overwhelming of the NHS – not to keep everybody safe. There is a risk whenever you go out of your front door.

“We need to be out, having regular surgeries, and we need to open things up again, open schools up with sensible precautions.

“The bunker mentality with some, but not all, needs to go. Time to open up our economy.”

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Council leader and BCC chair Aileen Morton responded: “Officers are looking at this and a comment was made yesterday about bringing forward the easing of lockdown, so I expect to hear about ourselves as soon as we can.”

Councillor Redman then said: “I would hope that all public toilets will be able to open up. Can we have some clarity on what is going to happen?”

Ms Flanagan replied: “Part of it is to do with resources, because we have to ensure there are reasonable measures in place.

“A number of toilet attendants are in the shielding group.

"What we intend to do over the next few days is engage with the relevant people to see if we can reopen.”

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