Main Street, Athy
A Kildare County Council committee will discuss the issue of a public toilet for the town in March.
At the council’s Athy Municipal District Committee on January 18 Cllr Brian Dooley asked for an update on progress to provide a public toilet in Athy.
In particular, he wanted to know if businesses have been asked to offer this service to the public for a reduction in their rates?
Cllr Dooley told us that he has been getting calls every week from people asking about a public toilet in the town and it was an issue in other towns as well. “There are people with underlying health conditions who need access to a toilet and that has been difficult, particularly with many potential premises shut during Covid.”
In a report to members, District Manager, Annette Aspell said that following a question from Councillor Dooley at last July’s meeting of the municipal district, asking if the council had any plans to provide public toilets in Athy, the matter was referred to the Economic Development, Enterprise and Planning Strategic Policy Committee. “I understand that the matter is due to be discussed at the next meeting of the SPC in March,” she said.
Ms Aspell went on to say that at last July’s meeting, the council said it did not have any plans to provide public toilets in Athy.
She said the council terminated the contract for public toilets in various towns throughout the county in 2017 due to the significant operational costs involved.
A motion by Cllr Ivan Keatley in November 2017 was referred to the Economic Development, Enterprise and Planning SPC to consider a scheme to incentivize businesses in Kildare towns and villages to allow public use of their toilet facilities which could replace our current public toilet contract.
Ms Aspell said the matter was referred to the SPC but did not progress further due to the complexities involved.
Cllr Dooley said that in many towns in Europe businesses can get a commercial rate rebate in return for providing a toilet facility to the public on behalf of the local authority.
But he understands that there is an official view that a commercial rates rebate is not the way to go.
He is not giving up. “We need to address this; if not by a rate rebate, then by other methods, perhaps via the Shop Front or some other scheme ” he said.
Cllr Dooley said we could look at using Kildare County Council premises, such as the Town Hall or library.
He also also said he believed that paying money for “pods” would be a waste of time.
Meanwhile the matter will go back to the council’s Economic Strategic Policy Committee.