Claim Cottesloe Council had a year to find solution to closing beach toilets

Photo: Jon Bassett
Photo: Jon Bassett

CLAIMS by Indiana Restaurant director Chris Taylor indicate Cottesloe Council and its staff had at least a year’s warning public toilets under the building could be closed before the gates shut on August 23.

“We advised the council (about closure) when they confirmed that we were relieved of the obligation officially in August 17, 2017 to operate the public toilets and change rooms,” Mr Taylor said .

The closure is the latest chapter in a long-running argument between Indiana and the landlord council about who runs the toilets in a controversial lease until 2041.

Mr Taylor said the council rejected Indiana’s March offer to keep the toilets open if the local government continued to clean them.

At a meeting behind closed doors that month, councillors also gave their staff permission to get alternatives immediately if the toilets were shut.

However, it took 10 days to install replacement portables when the threat was made real three weeks ago.

Mr Taylor said an email to the council two weeks earlier said the toilets would be closed on August 23 when about $85,000 used to run them would be finished.

The closure has outraged residents, startled tourists and prompted Premier Mark McGowan to remind Cottesloe that beach toilets are provided by all other councils.

Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Yvonne Hart said the responsibility should rest with the council.

“The council needs to refurbish what we’ve got down there, and perhaps people paying 50c or $1 to use them could help, but it’s not a State responsibility, and we suspect it’s a council responsibility,” she said.

A council spokeswoman said it was initially thought one gate had been closed, but after finding both were locked the council first “exhausted” getting Indiana to agree the council operate the facilities in the interim, after which the “last resort” was the portables.

A public meeting about the toilets is at Cottesloe Civic Centre, Broome Street, 7pm next Wednesday.

Toilet trouble timeline:

THE current argument about the toilets under the Indiana Restaurant goes back about a decade.

However its origins lie in the claimed loose obligations of a controversial lease for the beachside building that runs until 2041.

The lease has been held by several operators since the restaurant’s construction over combined changeroom-toilets in the mid-1990s.

2006: Cottesloe Council approves “goodwill” additional toilet cleaning at Indiana, but budgeted $30,940 is not approved.

2010: Ongoing complaints about toilets, and council legal advice the lease requires the operator to do repair and maintenance. Council spend $40,000 on plumbing.

2011-2012: Council spends $80,000 on blocked toilets.

2012: Council and Indiana split $12,000 on plumbing.

2015: Cottesloe residents’ report on correct toilet cleaning not used by council.

2015: Council spends $24,000 and Indiana $16,000 on toilet cleaning.

2016: Council budget changed to spend $50,000, while Indiana allocates $16,000, to cleaning.

2017: Original Indiana architect Laurie Scanlan finds plumbing in “good general condition”, but estimates $400,000 needed.

2016-2017 Cost to council of unsuccessful Supreme Court case about $400,000.

2017: Council allegedly confirms Indiana not obliged to operate public toilets.

August 23, 2018: Toilets closed.

Sources: Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association/WSW.