TOILET attendants are working 12-hour shifts in a bid to keep facilities open and clean during the coronavirus pandemic.

Concerns about the state of public toilets, particularly in Dunbar, have been highlighted by members of the public.

Currently, only the disabled toilet is open at the public toilets on the town’s Bayswell Road due to staffing issues.

Recruitment of staff to clean the toilets has proved challenging for the local authority in recent months.

A group of volunteers offered to step forward to keep the toilets clean but the offer was rejected by East Lothian Council.

East Lothian Courier: Councillor Norman HampshireCouncillor Norman Hampshire

The cleaning agency the council uses does not have any additional staff to allow the local authority to bolster the ranks cleaning the 30 toilets across the county.

Councillor Norman Hampshire highlighted the efforts of the toilet attendants during a virtual meeting with Dunbar Community Council on Monday evening.

He said: “It is a battle all the time trying to keep things going.

“I know some staff in cleaning are doing 12-hour shifts.

“That’s a hard job and a dangerous job. It is a highly infectious area and they have got to be very careful when cleaning the toilets.

“They are going into them all the time, with four 12-hour shifts.

“It is a hard task for the people doing that.”

Efforts are now being made to raise awareness that the toilets at nearby Dunbar Leisure Pool are open, as are toilets at Skateraw; Whitesands; Shore Road, Belhaven; and John Muir Country Park.

Mr Hampshire, who represents the Dunbar and East Linton ward on East Lothian Council, said: “They will install notices on the building informing people that the public toilets in the leisure centre are available.

“It is only a short walk from those toilets and all those in the leisure centre are available for people to use.

“A lot of people think you need to be using the leisure centre but you do not. They are just as you go in the door to the left. They are available and will be operated and maintained by pool staff.”

East Lothian Courier: Volunteers offered to help with keeping Dunbar's town centre toilets cleaned but the idea was rejected by East Lothian Council

The Rev Diana Hall, minister at St Anne’s Episcopal Church in the town, had contacted the community council to see if a voluntary rota system could be put in place to keep the neighbouring public toilets clean. However, this was rejected by the local authority.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “East Lothian Council has been able to open toilets across the county for a number of months but access has unfortunately been reduced at some sites due to a shortage of staff.

“All toilets require enhanced cleaning regimes in line with current Covid guidelines which means more frequent visits to sites.

“We have recently been successful in appointing new staff and it is hoped that we will be able to open more of our facilities towards the end of the month but this remains a fragile situation, with staff sometimes requiring to self-isolate.

“This is not a unique situation to Dunbar, or indeed East Lothian, as many other areas are also experiencing staff shortages and agencies unable to keep up with demand for temporary trained cleaning staff.

“We are unable to take on volunteer cleaning staff due to the requirements for health and safety training with regard to cleaning products and equipment.”

A spokesperson for enjoyleisure, which operates leisure centres in East Lothian on the council’s behalf, said: “enjoyleisure is pleased to be able to support the community by making the leisure pool’s toilet facilities accessible to the visitors to Dunbar. Anything enjoy can practically provide to promote visits to this beautiful town and make it a pleasant experience, we are more than happy to do.

“Hopefully our friendly welcome will encourage people to return time and time again.”