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PICTURES: Councillors flushed with pride as revamped toilets finally reopen in Wick after destruction by vandals


By David G Scott

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A gathering of councillors beckoned the reopening of the Whitechapel toilets in Wick on Monday morning after they had been ruined by repeated acts of vandalism several years ago.

There was no great fanfare for the event but a Highland Council employee led the way for the delighted councillors and unlocked the doors of the new facilities that combined high-tech toilets and shower cubicles with a series of lockers outside that are overseen by CCTV cameras monitoring 24/7 for the type of unruly behaviour that had seen the toilets closed in December 2019.

Councillors at the opening of the revamped toilets on Monday morning. From left, Jan McEwan, Raymond Bremner, Wendy Campbell and Willie Mackay. Picture: DGS
Councillors at the opening of the revamped toilets on Monday morning. From left, Jan McEwan, Raymond Bremner, Wendy Campbell and Willie Mackay. Picture: DGS
Wick and East Caithness councillor and Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner leads the way into the new toilets. Picture: DGS
Wick and East Caithness councillor and Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner leads the way into the new toilets. Picture: DGS
Highland councillor and Wick provost Jan McEwan (left) with community councillor Wendy Campbell as they survey the new fittings. Picture: DGS
Highland councillor and Wick provost Jan McEwan (left) with community councillor Wendy Campbell as they survey the new fittings. Picture: DGS

Council leader and Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said: “This project has shown that with dedicated partnership working and a varied funding package the council can deliver a fantastic facility suitable for a variety of users, locals, and tourists.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved and for their commitment to making it work, despite the challenges.”

Highland Council called it a “shining example of partnership in action” and how necessary the toilets are for a town that attracts more visitors due to the popularity of the NC500.

Whitechapel public toilets in Wick before the refurbishment.
Whitechapel public toilets in Wick before the refurbishment.
The brand new Whitechapel toilets are now ready for customers. Picture: DGS
The brand new Whitechapel toilets are now ready for customers. Picture: DGS

The council said that a project board was then set up, with a representative from Wick Development Trust, to refurbish the site and met regularly to progress the various actions and to provide regular updates to the community and councillors.

Norbloc Construction Ltd, Halkirk carried out the full refurbishment at a costing of £395K.

Royal Burgh of Wick Community Councillor Wendy Campbell (left) with Highland councillor and Wick provost Jan McEwan check the touchscreen hardware for accessing shower cubicles which cost £2 per session. Picture: DGS
Royal Burgh of Wick Community Councillor Wendy Campbell (left) with Highland councillor and Wick provost Jan McEwan check the touchscreen hardware for accessing shower cubicles which cost £2 per session. Picture: DGS

A council spokesperson stated: “The refurbishment presented many challenges. The timescale for this project was lengthy, following the closure, a feasibility study was completed in 2021 and then there was a requirement for structural and drainage surveys which took time to organise and resource.

“In 2022 the funding started coming together which came from the Place Based Investment Fund, the Highland Coastal Community Fund, the Community Regeneration Fund, the Visitor Management Fund, and Capital funds. The tender for the works was issued at the end of the 2022 year with responses received in January 2023.

The various councillors were delighted with what they saw. Picture: DGS
The various councillors were delighted with what they saw. Picture: DGS
Wick provost Jan McEwan looks inside a shower cubicle. Picture: DGS
Wick provost Jan McEwan looks inside a shower cubicle. Picture: DGS

“Work commenced on site in March 2023 and took nine months to complete. There were delays with the availability of materials and provision of shower charging units. In addition, it was decided late on into the project to include internal and external CCTV which were the last elements of the project to be completed.”

The improvements include a significant interior refurbishment, new cubicles, sanitary ware, LED lighting, wet wall, flooring, CCTV, consumable holders, baby change stations, disabled facilities, and showers with contactless charging.

Touchscreen that charges £2 for a shower. Picture: DGS
Touchscreen that charges £2 for a shower. Picture: DGS
Cllr Raymond Bremner tries the touchscreen for the shower cubicles. Picture: DGS
Cllr Raymond Bremner tries the touchscreen for the shower cubicles. Picture: DGS

Exterior works were a new pitched roof, new lockers, a new wall, footpath, and access ramp as well as signage and exterior CCTV and LED lighting.

Wick provost and Wick and East Caithness councillor Jan McEwan said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be here for the opening of these toilets and I hope the community appreciates the work that has gone into them and will look after them.

An honesty box for donations. Picture: DGS
An honesty box for donations. Picture: DGS
Cllr Willie Mackay surveys the guts of the facility with its hi-tech plumbing. Picture: DGS
Cllr Willie Mackay surveys the guts of the facility with its hi-tech plumbing. Picture: DGS
Behind a locked door is a myriad of pipes for the toilet plumbing and showers. Picture: DGS
Behind a locked door is a myriad of pipes for the toilet plumbing and showers. Picture: DGS

“There are various measures in place to counteract vandalism and I hope the local community will report any antisocial behaviour in the area to stop this from happening again. There is 24-hour camera surveillance to help protect this asset in the town. If we want to improve the town we have to look after what we have.”

Wendy Campbell from the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council said: “The community council is delighted that we have new toilets. They’re absolutely super and we have cameras so hopefully they won’t be vandalised. They were in a terrible state before. People were hoping they’d reopen for Gala Week.”

Highland councillor for Wick and East Caithness Willie Mackay was horrified to see the vandalism at the toilets back in 2019. Picture: DGS
Highland councillor for Wick and East Caithness Willie Mackay was horrified to see the vandalism at the toilets back in 2019. Picture: DGS
Cllr Willie Mackay stands in the same position where he witnessed the smashed mirrors several years back. Picture: DGS
Cllr Willie Mackay stands in the same position where he witnessed the smashed mirrors several years back. Picture: DGS
Lockers outside the toilets are closely monitored by cameras. Picture: DGS
Lockers outside the toilets are closely monitored by cameras. Picture: DGS
The toilets are monitored by CCTV 24/7. Picture: DGS
The toilets are monitored by CCTV 24/7. Picture: DGS

Wick and East Caithness councillor Willie Mackay stood in the same position within the facility where he saw smashed mirrors and toilets back in 2019. He said: “It’s absolutely impressive and well-needed in this wonderful royal burgh of Wick.”

Councillor Bremner highlighted some of the details related to the new toilet facilities:

• The building will be open from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm initially to monitor its operation and maintenance.

• There is an honesty box for folks to make a donation if they wish to help cover operational costs.

• There is a toilet for the disabled with separate external access by radar key.

• The toilets are unisex entrance with ladies to the left and gents to the right.

• Baby changing facilities are available in both ladies and gents toilet areas.

• Toilets will be regularly inspected by staff however, the number to call if there are any issues is 01349 886606

• Public showers for visitors open on presentation of a debit/credit card at a cost of £2. The door is unlocked after payment is authorised. The door is locked and unlocked on the inside by pressing the lit "lock" button. Once the door is locked, the shower will operate. The shower, once switched on, lasts up to 10 minutes.

The first customer of the day was Andrew Scollay from Wick who was impressed with the revamped facilities at Whitechapel Road. Picture: DGS
The first customer of the day was Andrew Scollay from Wick who was impressed with the revamped facilities at Whitechapel Road. Picture: DGS

Cllr Bremner added: “The building is a brand new facility and has taken a lot of time, effort and finance to deliver. I'm hoping that the community support us in protecting the new facility for locals and visitors alike.”




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