Cottesloe: portables the only relief so far in Indiana toilet saga

Photo: Jon Bassett
Photo: Jon Bassett

INDIANA Restaurant director Chris Taylor says Cottesloe Council was told in 2016, last year and three weeks ago the disputed public toilets under the prominent beachside building would be closed, before padlocks clamped the facilities’ gates last week.

“They were given more than adequate notice they would be closed,” Mr Taylor told communitynews.com.au this afternoon.

The padlocks are the latest chapter in an argument with the Indiana which has costed the council at least $656,642 since 2006.

The dispute is over who is responsible for the toilets’ cleaning and the building’s maintenance in a lease running until 2041.

Today, Mr Taylor said the Indiana was told it did not have to operate public toilets during a council rent review in 2016, and the company’s cleaning and repair budget of about $80,000 to $90,000 annually had been used for this year.

“As late as last week they were broken into and the syringe boxes were smashed off the walls,” he said.

He said Indiana welcomed any council offer to take over the toilets’ cleaning, the structural maintenance of the restaurant was “obviously” his company’s responsibility, and portable toilets could be put anywhere outside the leased area, comprising the restaurant’s footprint and land east to Marine Parade.

“There’s been no increase in public facilities on Cottesloe beach for 25 years, but use of the beach has grown hugely,” Mr Taylor said.

However, in a weekend email to former Cottesloe mayor Kevin Morgan, council chief executive Mat Humfrey described a fear that by accepting Indiana’s position the council would be responsible for the high costs of maintaining the entire building until 2041

The council will install portable toilets today, and a spokeswoman said the lease did not “compel or require” Indiana to keep the padlocked public toilets open.

The spokeswoman said the council had offered to take over the cleaning, which was not accepted for this summer, and the decision to re-open the public facilities lay with the Indiana’s management.