LACK of staffing has been blamed for the closure of one of West Cork’s finest public loos.
Residents in Baltimore have lit a fire under local councillors because the facility – which is incorporated into the harbour master’s building – has been closed since a local Council operative retired.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said he understood the sense of anger and frustration in Baltimore because the man’s retirement did not come as sudden news.
‘We are heading into the Easter break and the facilities have had to be closed because there was no one to open them in the morning, close them in the evening, and clean them in between times,’ Cllr Carroll told The Southern Star.
He requested that standing orders be suspended at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District on Monday so the councillors could vent their annoyance before getting to the minutes, motions and any other business.
‘A lot of people are angry about the situation,’ he said, ‘including one woman who quoted an article dated February 24th 2016 in which the opening of the harbour master’s office was lauded as being a model facility with ‘toilets that are well designed and easily maintained.’
‘I was so shocked by the condition of the toilets about two weeks ago that I asked management to close them because they were at risk of becoming a health hazard,’ said Cllr Carroll.
The loos have been closed ever since, according to the councillor, who said his problem was ‘with the Council and its staffing because they have not replaced this man.’
At the meeting, a senior executive officer with Cork County Council informed the councillors that the local authority is still in the process of trying to find an independent cleaner.
‘This is not good enough,’ said Cllr Carroll, who pointed out that he, and other councillors, have been complaining about the shortage of Council workers for months, if not years.
‘Easter is next week and the busy season is starting,’ he added, ‘trying isn’t good enough. This is a great facility with a shower facility for mariners, it needs to be reopened by Easter.’
Baltimore Tidy Towns spokesperson Maureen O’Hanlon, said nobody in Baltimore understands how the Council did not have a plan to replace the operative. ‘Not only are visitors to Baltimore denied access to these essential facilities,’ another local, Jonnie Goyer, pointed out, ‘but also those visiting Sherkin because with the hotel now closed there are no public toilets on the island.’
She said: ‘The Council should stop treating Baltimore like a cul-de-sac and instead treat it like the destination village it is, one of Conde Nast’s 12 most beautiful villages in Ireland. ‘The lack of foresight, planning, attention to public health, care, and leadership is appalling,’ she said.