WORKERS’ union Unite has launched a petition calling on East Lothian Council to scrap plans to get rid of permanent toilet attendants.

The union has thrown its weight behind staff who are based in public toilets around the county.

And it has warned that axing the full-time workers would let standards in the facilities fall and make them a target for “vandalism or drug use”.

East Lothian Council said in July it was considering extending its team of “mobile toilet attendants” to replace permanent on-site attendants in a bid to save £126,000.

There are currently seven permanent attendants covering public toilets in Haddington, Musselburgh and North Berwick. In addition, there are half a dozen mobile attendants who provide cover when the permanent attendant is not available.

The Unite Scotland petition, which has been launched online at ipetitions, says: “Permanent toilet attendants keep our public toilets safe, clean and accessible for everyone in the community, as well as for tourists.

“Without a permanent attendant to keep watch, it is likely that standards will fall and the toilets could become a target for vandalism or drug use. They could even end up closing altogether.”

Gillian McKay, Unite’s regional representative for East Lothian, said public toilets were a “basic need” for many.

She said: “Having safe public toilets are essential for many people, including our elderly and those with medical conditions who need to plan a journey around access to a toilet.

“Bus drivers and lorry drivers also need to be able to find the facilities.

“We understand money needs to be saved but this is a soft target. Our toilets in East Lothian have won awards and the permanent attendants, many of whom are among the lowest paid workers, are dedicated to their role.”

An East Lothian Council spokeswoman said: “In the challenging financial climate our priority is to seek new ways of maintaining services that meet the needs of residents and visitors while operating within our agreed budget.

“Mobile toilet attendants already work across the majority of public toilet sites in the county and this is an area that we are exploring.

“Our employees are pivotal and as such a service review is being conducted which will include consultation with the unions and staff.”

The petition is at