Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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The Highland Council will have to use its own budget to save the 29 toilets threatened with closure.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning made the announcement yesterday (Thursday 20 September), contradicting recent reports that the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs pressed the Highland Council to request a grant from Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to keep the toilets open.

The Scottish Government's Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund totals £6 million and is there to ensure local services and facilities used by tourists and communities are protected.

Edward Mountain MSP asked what support the Scottish Government will provide to service the 96 public toilets managed by the Highland Council.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning said that in a meeting with the Leader of Highland Council he made it clear that the council should "engage with local communities before taking any decision and should consider the potential longer-term impact on tourism in the area, rather than just short-term financial savings."

Edward Mountain MSP then asked: "Will the Government join me in continuing to press the Highland Council to keep the loos open? Will it consider further financial help, if that is requested?"

Kevin Stewart gave no assurances that financial help was available and stated that Highland Council "has £17.1m more to support services" compared to last year.

Following the exchange Highlands and Islands MSP Edward Mountain said: "It appears the Scottish Government is rowing back from its offer to make additional funds available to save our Highland loos.

"Why were funds available at request from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund last month not available now?

"The people of the Highlands deserve to know and that is why I have lodged a series of Freedom of Information requests to the Scottish Government."

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