Toilet takeover dumps a repair bill on Cottesloe Council

Cottesloe chief executive Matt Humfrey and Mayor Phil Angers view the publicity about the Indiana toilets collected by Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association.  Picture: Jon Bassett.
Cottesloe chief executive Matt Humfrey and Mayor Phil Angers view the publicity about the Indiana toilets collected by Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association. Picture: Jon Bassett.

COTTESLOE Council faces a potential $500,000 bill to initially upgrade toilets it has sub-leased under the Indiana Restaurant after they were closed in an argument about the building’s rent last month.

“The Indiana was not obliged to do so under the lease, but we’d like to upgrade the toilets,” Cottesloe Mayor Phil Angers told a meeting about 20 of town’s residents and ratepayers association on Wednesday.

The council will now pay $1 annually for the toilets until 2041 and has spent $3500 on immediate repairs.

Cottesloe Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Yvonne Hart displayed publicity about the Indiana toilets at the meeting. Picture: Jon Bassett.

It has allocated $60,000 to $80,000 for cleaning, including an all-day cleaner in summer, and $30,000 for maintenance in the next 12 months.

Chief executive Matt Humfrey said any initial upgrade was at least a year away and the closure’s origin lay in a 2016 rent review and a $100,000 difference between the council’s and the restaurant’s estimates of new rent.

Mr Humfrey said restaurant operator Chris Taylor threatened to shut the toilets after the higher rent started and it was confirmed the lease did not say public facilities had to be provided.

He said there was still $2.2 million from the $9.1m sale of the town’s depot for foreshore improvements, and agreed $500,000 could be needed for the toilet upgrade, including more cubicles, outlined by Indiana architect Laurie Scanlan at the meeting.

“All toilets and basins would be replaced, the pipes are OK but we’d need to redo the seals, and that may solve in the first instance any of the stinks and smells,” Mr Scanlan said.

He said the cost could increase if outside pipes, grease and sand traps needed repairs.

Some residents were concerned how the upgrade, new toilets or other foreshore improvements could be funded.

“I could argue the council needs to raise more rates and spend more on capital works because it has flow-on effect to the values of properties in the town,” resident Chris Wiggins said.

However, resident John Brooksby said the State Government should help pay because it promoted Cottesloe Beach but ratepayers had to “pick up the tab”.