'That's €32,000 of taxpayers' money,' war of words over Council public toilet contract

The issue came up at the December meeting of Bagenalstown Municipal District

Darren Hassett

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Darren Hassett

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The public toilet in Bagenalstown (Picture: Pat Moore)

"That's crazy," said Cllr Willie Quinn as a war of words erupted over the Bagenalstown public toilet contract which is costing the Council €32,000 a year for a return of €400, according to the area engineer. 

The issue came up at the December meeting of Bagenalstown Municipal District when members were discussing the facility and its use in the town.

Carlow Live previously revealed that in 2017, Bagenalstown's public toilet cost €32,000 to run and the price included the "operating contract and electricity supply" but it only made just over €225 in revenues that year.

Area engineer, Jerry Crowley, said it was costing the local authority €32,000 a year for a contractor to operate and maintain the facility and the contract is for 20 years. 

Cllr Quinn said: "That's crazy. That's €32,000 of taxpayers' money to take in €400. We don't have a toilet in Borris."

He said that paying "€600,000 over 20 years is crazy money". 

"I've no problem with the toilet being there, it's the 20 year lease that is the problem," Cllr Quinn added. 

Cllr Arthur McDonald defended the toilet which he said local representatives had fought hard for in the past.

He added that there is no maintenance for the Council to carry out nor are there caretaker costs. 

While Cllr Andy Gladney said the toilet "looked well". 

Mr Crowley added: "If you have a standard public toilet, it will lead to all sorts of problems like anti-social behaviour. We are not going to keep a toilet in the town.

"The one in St Mullins costs €15,000 a year but if you put that in Bagenalstown you'd pay the €15,000 and God knows what else to run it."

The new Director of Services, Padraig O'Gorman, who took over for Dan McInerney, said the contracts for the toilets are "very onerous and there is a long notice period for termination". 

"They are very hard contracts to finish out," he warned and said the Council could automatically roll into another five years if the negotiations don't start in advance of the contract expiring. 

"The alternative is not appetising," he said and for the Council to provide the facility themselves would be "very expensive". 

The facility was installed around 2004/05, the members were told. 

Mr O'Gorman said that when you factor in personnel costs for the Council, key-holding and other issues, the bill would very quickly get to €30,000 again if the local authority ran the toilet.