FLINTSHIRE Council is looking to improve the toilet facilities on offer across the county after its previous strategy was hampered by the pandemic.

The authority’s environment and economy scrutiny committee meets next week to consider a plan to raise the standard of facilities across the county.

Factors that will be taken into consideration include budget pressures limiting the potential for investment, and the effect of vandalism and anti-social behaviour on maintenance costs and resources, while the pandemic impacted on a previous strategy.

A report from the council’s chief officer for Streetscene will be considered by members, which states that public toilets in Talacre and Holywell have deteriorated and need investment, along with a wish to increase the facilities available.

The report states: “The previous 2019 strategy had a 12-point action plan, many of the intentions were adversely affected through the pandemic period.

“It should also be noted that the structural condition of the facilities provided in both Talacre and Holywell (as was the case with the Mold, New Street facilities) have deteriorated considerably recently and are in dire need of capital investment to repair and upgrade them.

“Recent repairs and maintenance to damage caused by flooding and vandalism have incurred additional costs, which has created a pressure of £23,000 on the existing revenue budget over and above the £89,000 available budget.”

Providing toilets for public use is not a statutory requirement for councils in Wales.

The report adds: “Due to unprecedented financial cutbacks within local government, Flintshire, like many other local authorities, has closed down its traditional standalone public toilet blocks.

“This strategy aims to mitigate potential impacts by making toilets in more council facilities available for public use and to work with the private sector to help promote their facilities.

“It is recognised that the previous strategy did not necessarily live up to the priorities and values of the council, as well as those of a number of public interest groups, who are aware of the requirements expected of the council to have a public toilet strategy.

“These groups have contacted the council’s leadership several times to challenge the current provision and support improved facilities.

“Recently upgraded facilities provided in Mold resulted in significant local criticism following their introduction and are seen as insufficient on the grounds of DDA 1995 (Disability Discrimination Act) and ‘Changing Places’ specification.

“The new strategy will therefore look to raise the standard of the facilities across the county over the next four to five years. Through this strategy, we aim to provide accessible, clean toilets in the most appropriate locations.

“We also aim to secure the future of current provision as well as looking at ways to increase the number of public toilets available and improving access to all groups of people.”

According to the report, when planning the future provision of local toilets, the council has to consider the current financial constraints on the service area as well as ongoing future budget reductions.

Cleaning and maintenance operations and standards will need to be reviewed on a periodic basis to ensure the most efficient and effective provision within allocated resources.

The report adds: “Unfortunately, public toilets can also become a magnet for anti-social behaviour such as drug taking and vandalism, which can impact the provision and cause significant damage.

“Any capital or revenue commitment will need to be supported through a business case approach, taking account of full costs and possible income sources.”

Members will consider the report when the committee meets on Tuesday (March 7).