Portlaoise's public toilets set to reopen this week.
The only public toilets in Portlaoise, Laois are set to reopen after being closed for over three years, after a costly makeover aimed at making them more secure against drug abuse or anti-social behaviour.
The toilets in Lyster Square were closed down in summer 2017, because of such behaviour.
They have been redesigned and refurbished at a cost of €131,775 (excluding VAT at 13.5%).
It was a long wait to spend what is much more than a penny. When Laois County Council first closed them in 2017, they said there was no money in the budget to refurbish them. The first callout for contractors was made back in 2018 but it received no interest. In late 2018 the council said it was drawing up an agreement with a Northern Ireland company to do the works.
By last summer, the toilets were completed, but Covid-19 restrictions kept them closed the council said.
The new toilet facility has two single male/female units, both units universally accessible. It will be smaller with the extra floor space refurbished to be given over to local community uses such as Portlaoise Tidy Towns.
Laois County Council has announced the reopening date.
"Laois County Council is pleased to advise that the refurbished Portlaoise Public Convenience, Lyster Square, Portlaoise will open on Thursday, December 3 rd at 8 am. This facility will be open from 8 am to 6 pm in the evening, Monday to Saturday – including public holidays and the entry fee is 50 cent.
"People using this facility are required to adhere to HSE COVID 19 guidelines," they said.
A senior official told the Leinster Express that they wanted to do the best job possible.
"We have updated the toilets to state of the art models similar to those in Kilkenny and Cork. You access them directly from the path, and they have bespoke single unit washer dryer as you would see in a shopping centre. We can't fully eliminate anti-social behaviour but we have made them as vandal proof as possible. We hope that people will respect them.
The cost came from the council's own budget and maintenance will be carried out daily by an existing council employee.
"Councillors really wanted us to get the toilets back so we decided to do the best job we could," the council official said.
In 2017, Laois County Council director of services Kieran Kehoe said there was drug taking in the toilets.
“What was there was not fit for purpose, there was a huge amount of antisocial behaviour and a huge amount of drug taking,” he said.
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