Resurrected from the archives, this thread reminds us that the automatic loo at Straiton Park on the Promenade has been around since 2005. Since then, it seems to have been closed more often than it has been open, as my posts and lengthy email correspondence since then demonstrate. If we hope to promote Portobello as a tourist destination then we have to provide basic amenities such as toilets and there's not much point having a facility that doesn't work.
The toilet is owned and maintained by Clear Channel (Adshel) along with 4 others in the city. They don't make any money from these facilities but it's part of the contract with the Council for providing and maintaining bus shelters, where they make their money from selling advertising space. So, unless pressed, there isn't really much of an incentive for them to sort any problems that arise. When people (mostly visitors) see that it is 'closed' they may be annoyed but they are unlikely to complain to anyone (or know who to complain to). It was not working a couple of weeks ago when we had that great weather and thousands of people on the beach and it was still out of action when thousands of marathon runners ran along the Prom. It's simply not good enough.
I made a few calls recently and discovered that the person responsible for the contract is Graham Atkins at City Development. In fact, he was around when the contract was originally awarded. Graham said he was largely unaware of the problems we have had in the past but promised to keep a close eye on the situation and press Clear Channel to fix any problems with the facility as per the service level agreement. He was also contacted by Maureen Child. I then spoke to Michael McCaughey at Clear Channel. He blamed a variety of causes for the loss of service, including BT, vandalism and the complexity of the design but he too promised to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.
Since then, an engineer has been out to fix the toilet and it appears to be working again. But the next time you see that it is 'closed', just drop a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call him on 0131 469 3783. It pays to complain.
I think the contract is up for renewal next year, so it's in Clear Channel's interests to maintain this loo.