An access code will soon be needed to use eight public toilets acround St Ives, Cornwall, including one which it lets out to a private operator. Locals will be made aware of this but tourists will have to pay using a contactless device at each building, most of which are at car parks.
The council is working to ensure second homeowners or holiday let users cannot use their temporary St Ives address, or share any access codes with their Airbnb customers, so public toilets are only genuinely free for locals.
The move, documented by Cornwall Live, has split opinion among both residents and visitors.
Writing online, one woman said: “I love Cornwall… I no longer want to visit… I’m sad after spending many happy holidays in Cornwall and encouraging people to visit there not realising I wasn’t welcome.”
A local posted: “Tourists and residents of Cornwall pay enough for the car parking, after a long journey. Surely the toilets should be free or perhaps a gratitude box available.”
Another local posted: “Pay to use the toilet? What kind of joke is this! Absolutely disgusting.”
But one wife from county said: “Just factor it into your holiday. You should pay.”
A man, who appears to be a regular visitor, shared: “Nothing wrong with that all.”
St Ives Town Council said it costs £135,000 a year to run all toilets in the town.This includes cleaning, utilities and maintenance but excludes the labour costs of our staff in carrying out repairs. They are open from dawn until dusk and in high season they need to be cleaned five times a day.
The authority also has to pay to repair damage caused by vandalism, which has increased over the past few years.
Town clerk Louise Dwelly said: “Many councils across the country are closing their public toilets because of the huge cost.
“But we understand the importance of public toilets to our visitor economy and this is not an option in a seaside town with beaches. Many councils in Cornwall including Penzance, Looe, Newquay, Falmouth, St Mawes, Boscastle have introduced charging to help pay these costs.
“Local residents already pay for all these costs through their council tax and we don’t want them to pay twice.”
Tourists will need to pay to use the loos from the summer.
Installation costs for the scheme which will start with the West Pier and then later in the Sloop car park toilets will be paid for by changing places funding from Government.
Next year, St Ives Town Council will also be building a fully accessible adult changing toilet at the Sloop to help wheelchair-bound adults and their carers enjoy the seaside.