From cllr Graham Hutchison …
The decision to re-open the public toilets at the Hawes Pier was approved by the Policy and Sustainability Committee this afternoon.
The relevant section of the report detailing the arrangements is copied below.
4.6 This has concluded that the following facilities, with additional measures in place to address the risks identified (see risk and mitigations section below), could be reopened:
4.6.1 Pipe Lane in Portobello;
4.6.2 Hope Park in the Meadows;
4.6.3 Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens;
4.6.4 the Courtyard at Saughton Park;
4.6.5 Bruntsfield Links;
4.6.6 Hawes Pier, South Queensferry; and
4.7 Arrangements can be made for reopening from 13 July 2020 to 30 October 2020. The proposed opening hours would be 11.00am until 6.00pm, seven days per week. With public health at the forefront of the decision making process, it is considered that facilities will only be reopened when the following risks and mitigations have been addressed.
4.8 A review of operations will be carried out in September 2020 with a further report to the appropriate Committee in October 2020. This will include details of customer numbers, costs incurred, and any updates on public health advice.
Risks and Mitigations
4.9 In addition to the public health considerations (set out in paragraph 4.1 and in Appendix 1), there are a number of risks in reopening public conveniences which need to be considered.
4.10 A risk based approach has been developed for each of the facilities proposed for reopening, with a detailed operational plan, appropriate risk assessments and safe working practice arrangements being developed. These will take account of the risks and mitigations outlined below and any specific requirements for individual locations.
Protecting Staff and Customers
4.11 It is not possible to eliminate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 without the closure of public conveniences. Therefore, in preparing to reopen facilities, the safety and wellbeing of staff and customers is paramount.
4.12 Individual operating plans for each location listed in 4.6 consider the critical control points for both customers and staff and will seek to introduce appropriate measures to support physical distancing at all times and to provide appropriate supplies of hand sanitisers, soap, paper towels and cleansing products.
4.13 Adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided for staff at each facility. Staff will be also be issued with face coverings (it is important to note these are not PPE but are, at the time of writing, recommended by the Scottish Government to be worn in any space where physical distancing is difficult).
4.14 To ensure physical distancing can be maintained at all times, some infrastructure changes may be required within facilities to close off access to certain areas.
4.15 At some locations, restrictions will be introduced to limit the number of people who will be allowed within the facility at any one time (for example, in some places this may mean only one person being allowed in at any time).
4.16 Additional signage will be deployed in and around the facilities to remind customers of the current guidance on hygiene and hand washing. The signage will also explain that the facilities are not open to anyone displaying symptoms of the virus.
Cleaning and Management of Facilities
4.17 The Scottish Government Guidance states that enhanced cleansing and adequate management arrangements should be put in place prior to the re-opening of public conveniences. Additionally, the regulations require the Council as operator of the toilets to take reasonable steps to control numbers within the premises and customers waiting to enter to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
4.18 The mobile arrangements which the Council has operated for a number of years would not be sufficient to provide enhanced cleansing, management of facilities on
a daily basis or to satisfy the requirements of the regulations.
4.19 It is therefore proposed that at least one member of staff be deployed to each facility for the duration of its opening hours. These staff members would be responsible for cleaning and for management of demand (recognising that additional resources may need to be deployed at certain locations if extremely busy).
4.20 The individual operational plans set out the cleansing regime for each facility, with schedules and operational guides which state the frequency of cleaning required, depending on the circumstances.
Managing Customer Expectations
4.21 A clear communications plan will be introduced to explain when facilities are open, and the local arrangements in place for each. The Council’s website and social media channels will be kept updated.
4.22 The communications and signage will make clear unacceptable or illegal behaviour will not be tolerated. Police Scotland have the power to issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) to people urinating or defecating in public places.
4.23 Over recent weeks the Police have reported that there has been increased incidents of anti-social behaviour in areas where large groups of the public have been congregating. For instance, between 20 June and 3 July 2020, 28 FPN have been issued for urinating (Section 47 Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982) in the
Meadows and surrounding area, which far exceeds the number of FPN issued during the same period in 2019.
4.24 The introduction of restrictions on the number of people who can enter a facility is likely to lead to queues building up. It is anticipated that customers may be unhappy with this, possibly leading to frustration and abuse of staff. Additional resources should be available to be deployed in these circumstances but in some cases, this may mean that the facility will need to be closed to minimise the safety risk for both staff and customers.
4.25 In order to maintain facilities at the standard required to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus, it will be necessary to deploy additional staff resources to this team.
4.26 An opportunity for voluntary repurposing is being advertised on MyJobScotland for existing Council staff who are currently unable to carry out their normal duties.
4.27 It is also intended to approach the Council’s temporary employment agency partner, Pertemps, to also provide staff.