Aussie visitor lambasts council over Fort William public toilets

VIEWFORTH TOILETS Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F50-Viewforth-toilets-25lv6phbx-scaled.jpg
VIEWFORTH TOILETS Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F50-Viewforth-toilets-25lv6phbx-scaled.jpg

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An Australian tourist and frequent visitor to Fort William is threatening to inform travel publications in his own country about what he has slammed as the poor state of public toilets in Fort William.

The man contacted the Lochaber Times this week with his concerns that the local authority was not taking health concerns seriously enough, accusing Highland Council of leaving the town’s Viewforth car park public toilets in an inadequate state.

The visitor, who wished to remain anonymous, told us he was currently on his fifth visit to Fort William and that this was not the first time he had encountered problems with this particular public WC.

‘As a regular tourist I have to state how concerned I am at the lack of health and safety ‘concerns’ by the local council or whoever is responsible for the WC behind Tesco,’ he told us.

‘Firstly, entry is now only by coin-card use – out of order, for a long time, too, I think you will find. As tourists we do not mind paying for the opportunity of relieve ourselves having contributed to the local economy, but in view of national concerns regarding Covid, I find that apart from the toilets in generally being ‘dirty’, there is no soap, no hand sanitiser.

And he continued: ‘Perhaps coming from Australia we have come to accept high standards particularly at this time, but nevertheless those toilets are unacceptable and a health hazard.

‘So I have to conclude that the possible spread of the Covid virus and indeed the spread of other bacteria  and virus being equally if not more dangerous than Covid is clearly  of no concern for those promoting health and safety in this town – or this particular toilet.

‘I won’t take matters further here, other than to make the necessary comments to the various travel magazines in Australia etc.’

Asked to comment, a Highland Council spokesperson told us the toilets were currently only accessible via cash payment (coins) due to both card readers for contactless payments being vandalised and requiring to be replaced.

The council told the Lochaber Times it hoped to have these machines replaced by tomorrow (Friday) and that the toilets are cleaned twice daily, while members of the public can report issues using the online forms on the council website.

The spokesperson added: ‘As you may be aware the toilets at Viewforth only recently re-opened following extensive fire damage.

‘Vandalism and regular removal of consumables are frequently happening. Amenities staff are doing their best to clean and replenish consumables on a daily basis.

‘We aim to have the Highland Council public toilets opened 24/7, however in some cases we may need to change the hours or close a toilet temporarily due to operational issues and vandalism.’

Mark Linfield, chairman of Fort William, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council, told us: ‘We are aware of ongoing vandalism problems at Viewforth toilets and hope that the facility doesn’t get closed because of this.’

Community council chairman Mark Linfield. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F17 Mark Linfield 02
Community council chairman Mark Linfield. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos
NO F17 Mark Linfield 02

But the Australian tourist was less than satisfied by the local authority’s response, telling us: ‘The Highland Council did not respond to the fact that there was no sanitiser – and of course the blame on vandals – yet I noticed a camera at the entrance of the male toilets?

‘Lastly, there is no point in filling out the appropriate form offered. It requires an address of the complainant but does not accept overseas addresses – hence my referring to your paper.

‘But we have brought it to the attention of the council – hopefully it will encourage some action. It’s so disappointing to have a council reply in such negative terms.’