Spend a penny in a high street shop?

Lanark High Street.
Lanark High Street.

The new SNP council administration is considering a plan to offer a rates cut to all Clydesdale shops IF they allow non-customers to use their toilets.

The proposal by Carluke/Law area councillor David Shearer has been leaked to the Gazette in the same week a former Lanark councillor called on the South Lanarkshire Council administration to spend money reopening the town’s last manned public lavatory, closed two years ago in a round of cutbacks while the council was still under Labour control.

With the single exception of Biggar - where a community group took over running its facility at the Corn Exchange - Clydesdale now has no public toilets whatsoever; the Gazette understands that Lanark once had at least six.

Many have expressed fears that the area’s vital tourism industry might be suffering ongoing damage due to the lack of toilets for visitors from countries where not having such facilities in a town centre would be unthinkable.

Now Councillor Shearer proposes a scheme that would not involve any large expenditure reopening former lavatories nor building new ones.

He wrote to his group on the council stating: “I would like the group to look into the possibility of South Lanarkshire Council going into an agreement with the owners of shops, pubs and other public buildings to allow the public to use their toilets where we no longer have public toilets.

“There would need to be proper signage to say the public could use the toilets free of charge, but the benefits to the pub or shop or café would be increased footfall and a small fee from the council, say one month off their rates bill so that it would be a win-win situation.

“This would be a great advantage in places like Strathaven and Lanark, but also throughout the council area.”

When contacted by the Gazette all the councillor would say is that his proposal has been put to his group.

Meanwhile, Lanark’s former Independent councillor Ed Archer, now a Labour Party member, has called on the SNP to stay true to an election promise to listen to local people on how they want the council budget spent in their area by investing in reopening Lanark’s last manned facility at the Horsemarket.