In 2015, South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) South Lanarkshire Council made the decision to relinquish responsibility for public toilets throughout their estate. This meant closure of the public toilets in Biggar. The people of Biggar were anxious to find a way to keep their toilets open, and a Working Group was established to carry out a Feasibility study into the viability of taking over the toilets on behalf of the community. With the support of many local people, including our Councillors at the time, funding was secured to allow the project to go ahead.
Biggar Community Toilets have been operated, since 2016, as a subsidiary of Biggar Corn Exchange. The operation is managed by a Working Group, which was created for this purpose. The toilets are well-maintained by a team of volunteers, local cleaners and tradespeople. The toilets currently operate between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm and are locked overnight.
Finances and Funding
BCT has its own Bank Account. This facilitates effective control of its finances which are reported separately in Biggar Corn Exchange’s Annual Report.
Running costs are funded by a combination of donations, door receipts and revenue from collecting boxes (placed in business premises around the town). The retrofitting, in late 2020, of a contact-less payment system has reduced the amount of cash which has to be counted and provided an alternative method of securing entry on the (rare) occasions when coins are jammed in the payment mechanism. A radar-key facility was installed at the same time, allowing holders of such keys to gain free access.
Donations, in the form of Standing Orders from supporters, generated £2,500 in 21/22, Collecting Boxes generated £1,200. We can claim Gift Aid (c. £600 pa) on both streams of income. We very much appreciate the support of members of the Biggar community.
The entry charge has been kept at 40p, though many users pay 50p, or even £1.
During the 21/22 year we were pleased to receive a COVID recovery Grant.
With the current level of door income and regular donations (either by standing order or through collecting boxes) we have, this year, been able us to balance income and outgoings. We have sufficient reserves to cover short term reductions in revenue, and repairs. However, to maintain this position, careful financial management will continue to be necessary.
Day to Day Operations
Though routine operations generally run smoothly, there is a continual workload in monitoring and reordering consumable stock; managing volunteers; checking all operations; calling plumbers or electricians when required; distributing, collecting and replacing collection boxes and then counting and banking the donations; emptying the door operated coin box, counting and banking the proceeds.
During the period of COVID restrictions, the toilets were closed, with no door revenue. However, cleaners were not required during this period, which compensated for loss of revenue.
The layout of the facility does not allow us to control access such that every user is compelled to pay the entry charge. However, many recognise this, and use the honesty box.
Unattended operation does leave the facility open to vandalism, but instances of this have been few and relatively minor. Two mirrors have needed to be replaced, and the installation of an alternative product (polished stainless steel) should avoid future damage and reduce risk of associated injury.
The behaviour of a small number of users who think it appropriate to cause mess or damage is monitored by a comprehensive CCTV system.
The only other challenge is the unfortunate fact that the manufacturers of the automatic door are located in Lincolnshire. They are responsive and highly competent when repairs are needed, but their travel costs are high. We have contacted several local engineers but have not found anyone prepared or able to offer the necessary service.
Supporting Biggar’s Toilets
The toilets could not continue to operate without the long-term commitment of many people who were prepared to donate a small amount (typically equivalent to £1/week) by regular standing order
If you would like to set up a standing order, make a one-off donation, or volunteer to help with on-going operation, please CONTACT US or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply set up a Standing Order to:
Biggar Corn Exchange Community Toilets Appeal
Royal Bank of Scotland
104 High Street, Biggar ML12 6 DH
Sort Code: 83-16-11
The facilities are in good condition and fit for purpose. Visitors frequently provide positive feedback, and comment on the pristine state of the toilets. No major changes or upgrades are envisaged at present.