Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Installation of portaloos at Burry Port harbour signals victory for campaigners

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

The installation of Portaloos at Burry Port harbour has left campaigners scenting the seeds of victory in a long toilet saga. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council had toilets on the east side of the harbour removed last winter for cost reasons, sparking anxiety among residents and visitors. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

There is a permanent public toilet on the west side of the harbour outside Crazie Crepes Cafe – and boat owners can use a key-coded toilet – but a campaign highlighting the need for greater provision at the popular tourist destination has grown in recent weeks. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Now the town council, following discussions with Carmarthenshire Council, has installed two Portaloos as a temporary measure on the east side – with a third to follow shortly – and has submitted a planning application for Portacabin-style toilets as a longer-term arrangement. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Subject to planning consent, they could be in place in three months’ time. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Kathy Start, who started the Convenience Campaign, as it is known, welcomed the move but said more public toilets were needed on the west side. “An imperfect solution is better than no solution,” she said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mrs Start began the campaign in earnest having spoken to various local groups, including an outdoor swimming one, which pledged support. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Convenience campaigners displayed numerous placards at the harbour on Easter Sunday and took them to the county council’s headquarters in Carmarthen 10 days later. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A petition calling for immediate action by Carmarthenshire Council to plan, fund and build public toilets on both sides of the harbour was then discussed by councillors and again at a cabinet meeting on May 22. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Addressing cabinet, Mrs Start said the harbour was a magnet for residents and tourists and that she had counted nearly 400 people on Burry Port’s two beaches and the green area behind the previous Saturday. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It is well known that people resort to the sand dunes to relieve themselves,” she said. Mrs Start, of Pembrey, said reading comments from supporters caught out by the shortage of toilets made her feel “really, really uncomfortable”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Gareth John, cabinet member for regeneration, leisure, culture and tourism, said he had met and corresponded with Mrs Start and that the need for improved facilites was recognised. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said a stopgap measure was imminent for the east side of the harbour and that discussions had moved forward regarding medium and long-term arrangements. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Councillor Jane Tremlett, who has the health and social services brief, said a lack of public toilets deterred people from getting out and about. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The social isolation that they then suffer is quite acute,” she said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mrs Start told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that maintaining and servicing toilets was also crucial, and that she would like residents to come forward with ideas for a potential new block of toilets on the west side of the harbour. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The previous toilet block on the west side was knocked down in 2020 and rebuilt as Crazie Crepes Cafe. Owner Steven Avery said the toilet block had been targeted by vandals, wasn’t well maintained, and was shut for 265 days in one year. He likened them to “death traps”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Avery said the cafe had to provide and maintain an outside and inside toilet as part its 25-year lease. He said the outside toilet was open from 9.30am to 4.30pm in the winter and 9.30am to 7.30pm in the summer. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Members of the public as well as customers, he said, could also use the inside one, which has a baby changing unit. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Avery said he would be prepared to maintain portable public toilets by the cafe but that someone else would have to buy them. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said he felt privileged to be in such a great location and that he wanted it to be welcoming for people. “It’s an amazing spot, and we love being here,” said Mr Avery, who runs the businesses with his wife Hayley. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“It’s becoming like Mumbles but it’s a cheaper day out.” He added: “Ideally there should be toilets down at the beach.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

County councils have a duty to publish a toilet strategy for their area but there isn’t a statutory duty for them to actually provide them. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

There is a public toilet some 800 metres away from Burry Port harbour at the town’s railway station. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The east side of the harbour used to have metal portable toilets but the county council removed them four years ago due to repeated vandalism. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Businesswoman Laura Elston said she would like paid-for, self-cleaning toilets on the west side of the harbour, where she runs Harbour Light Tearoom with her husband Richard. “No-one, in my mind, would pay and then go on to vandalise them,” she said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

She said she allowed members of the public to use the tearoom’s toilet if they were desperate, such as having a young child who couldn’t wait. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mrs Elston said tourism in the area was growing and that more toilets were needed. “Making people pay for parking and then not providing facilities is a bit off, I think,” she said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Burry Port councillors John James and Shelly Godfrey-Coles said the new Portaloos were “fantastic news”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

They said everyone involved in the campaign and in responding to it should take a bow. “Our long-term aim is still to have toilet blocks on both sides of the harbour that offer shower facilities as well,” they added. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



Spotted something? Got a story? Email News@News.Wales



More from Carmarthenshire Council

Sewer Burst in Carmarthenshire Village Raises Concerns Over Housing Development

Carmarthenshire Council

Group Continues Fight to Save Village Pub Despite Planning Permission for Conversion

Carmarthenshire Council

Residents of Salem, Carmarthenshire, Rally to Save The Angel Inn

Carmarthenshire Council

Plans Paused to Amalgamate Schools’ Governing Bodies in Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire Council

New Drive-Through McDonald’s Nears Approval in Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire Council

Owner of Loss-Making Village Pub Criticises Local Group’s Takeover Bid

Carmarthenshire Council

Latest from News.Wales

Public Consultation Launched for ‘No-Gas’ Housing Development Near Maesteg

Bridgend Council

Opponents of Proposed “Super-Estate” in Wrexham Call for Public Meeting

Wrexham Council

Disused Newport leisure centre deemed safe by council officials

Newport Council

Plans Revealed for Fourth Phase of Rhondda Fach Active Travel Route

Rhondda Council

Fear of Diluted Local Voice in Vale of Glamorgan Community Council Changes

Vale of Glamorgan Council

Smallest School in Rhondda Cynon Taf to Close Despite Strong Opposition

Rhondda Council