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Sort bog awful loos by toilet training'

Gemma Fraser  - Evening News - 11 September 2009

Edinburgh education leader Marilyne MacLaren has admitted Edinburgh schools face a long wait to have their crumbling loos upgraded – but suggested they give them a "deep clean" and give children proper toilet training in the meantime.

Council bosses have already identified that £8 million needs to be spent to improve run-down and unsanitary toilets in city schools, but Cllr MacLaren has warned that the work would be "slow progress" due to the current financial crisis.

Savings of £14m have to be found in the education department alone, meaning that even basic necessities like having up-to-scratch toilet facilities have to take a back seat.

But Cllr MacLaren suggested that, while they wait, schools could take their own precautions to help ease the problem.

She said: "It will still be a priority but progress is going to be much slower than we would want and not that many will be done. We are encouraging schools to do deep cleans. There's not much point spending money and upgrading toilets and the schools not looking after them.

"Training the children on how to use the toilets properly can also help."

But the advice does not sit well with parents of children in schools with poor facilities.

April Wallace, 31, a parent of a P2 child at Clermiston Primary – which has been waiting years for toilet upgrades – said: "Deep cleaning is not going to remedy years of neglect.

"Teaching children proper hygiene is, of course, important, and should be done no matter what, but children's school toilets are always going to be high traffic areas."

A review of school toilets was ordered by director of education Gillian Tee last year after parents at Tollcross Primary highlighted the state of its facilities by showing her photos of burst pipes, live wires, broken toilets and cracked sinks.

A criteria for priority work was drawn up, which includes privacy issues, poor heating and ventilation, and ensuring there are enough toilets per pupil.

But until £1m is allocated in the 2011-12 budget, schools desperately waiting for their toilet blocks to be renovated will have to continue to wait.

Some work has been carried out since the council identified the huge costs involved with bringing school toilets up to scratch, however it is not going nearly as fast as schools and parents would like.

Cllr MacLaren said it was "immensely frustrating and depressing" to know that basic essentials are being neglected.

She said: "Generally speaking, progress on toilets is going to be much slower than it should be. I feel very frustrated.

"I have officials telling me there's at least a 20-year build-up of repairs that need to be done. Roofs need repairing, boilers need overhauled – it's basic stuff, not the icing on the cake, but the cake itself."

A council spokesman said: "We completed improvements at Gracemount over the summer and work is continuing at Nether Currie and Dalry.

"We are in a difficult financial situation but we will continue to progress our work within the fabric renewal budget."

See also:
Experts call for end of flushing toilets on World Toilet Day
Truth on a toilet wall
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