CARMARTHENSHIRE needs more public toilets for its 185,000 residents and three million annual visitors, according to residents and councillors.
There were 739 responses to two consultations on a draft local toilets strategy, which was discussed by a council scrutiny committee.
The report before members said Carmarthenshire had 19 toilet blocks and a further 21 operated by town and community councils and other local groups.
Nine of the toilet blocks are run by toilet company Danfo and cost 20p per visit.
Councils do not have a statutory requirement to provide public toilets but councillor Derek Cundy said: “Our job is to reflect what the people need and what the people want.”
He said he felt the authority should use its growing tourism revenue to increase the toilet supply.
“We can pay for this,” he said. “We should be moving with the times.”
A council officer said there was no cash in the capital budget to build new public toilets but that new ones were likely to be part of big regeneration schemes like the Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village.
Present at the meeting was executive board member for environment, councillor Hazel Evans, who said full council had decided several years ago to dispose of its public toilet stock.
She said it was “a crying shame” that the Welsh Government had not made it a statutory requirement for councils to provide public toilets when it drafted the 2017 Public Health (Wales) Act as that would have ensured funding was forthcoming.
She added: “There are opportunities for small businesses [to provide them].”
Cllr Mansel Charles said a community council and park trust had taken over the running of two public toilets in his Llanegwad ward while Cllr Jeanette Gilasbey said Kidwelly Town Council had taken the same approach.
All Welsh authorities have to publish a local toilets strategy as a result of the act.
Carmarthenshire council is reviewing all its toilet facilities and proposes to create links with public and private organisations to increase the supply.
Charges will be considered to reduce vandalism and improve cleanliness while potential sites for Changing Places facilities – which have a hoist and space for two carers – will be explored.
The report said surveys and research elsewhere had found that using a public toilet was often seen as a matter of last resort, especially for women.
“Some of this misconception stems from the not-too-distant past when toilets were intentionally placed to be out of public view and therefore often were poorly serviced or attended and attracted undesirable behaviours,” it said.
The environmental and public protection scrutiny committee noted the report and has requested that one of its members serve on a new toilet strategy study group, which will help develop the draft strategy further.
Committee chairman Cllr John James, who criticised the closure of public toilets on one side of Burry Port harbour last week, said: “Tourism is our main industry now. We have to give what people want.”
He added: “But it’s not just about tourism – it’s about vulnerable members of the community.”