Northern Ireland news

Council spends more that £54,000 on portable toilets in 15 months

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council spent £54,833 on the hire of portable toilets between May 2017 and August 2018
Connla Young

CONCERNS have been raised after it emerged a council spent more than £50,000 providing portable toilets to local organisations - including a bill of more than £17,000 for events linked to loyal orders and band parades.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council paid out a total of £54,833 for the hire of mobile toilets between May 2017 and August 2018.

More than £17,000 was spent on hundreds of portable loos for events linked to the Orange Order, Royal Black Institution and loyalist band parades.

Three separate GAA themed events were listed as having received 19 at a total cost of £860.

Fun runs, football clubs and tug of war events were among other sporting events and organisations that received help.

Sinn Féin councillor Catherine Nelson last night said the local authority needs to develop a policy on the issue, which was discussed at a committee meeting last month.

According to council figures, the highest single bill over the 15 months was £2,780 to provide 76 portable toilets for the Royal Black Institution’s annual Scarva demonstration on July 13 last year.

A similar event the previous year also required 76 toilets at a cost of £2,690.

Ratepayers also had a bill of £2,040 to cover the cost of providing 50 toilets for a July 12 parade in Loughgall last year.

In 2017, £1,870 was paid to provide 50 loos for a July 12 parade in Richhill.

Numerous individual band parades across the borough were also supported, while two bonfires were provided with seven portable toilets at a cost of £560.

Sinn Féin councillor Catherine Nelson

Other events supported by the council include £200 to provide four for a St Patrick’s Day parade in Keady last year.

Ms Nelson last night said any expenditure of ratepayers' money should be open to scrutiny from those elected to the council.

She added: “If council agree to provide portaloos borough-wide then they must go out to tender.

“Now that we have unearthed this we have called for a clear, fair and equitable process to be derived for all organisations requiring portaloos for events.

“This ensures a level playing field for all.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The provision of portaloos at not-for-profit events was an historic practice in each legacy council area, which continued when the councils came together.

“Elected members are currently developing a formal process around portaloo provision.

“Following a tender process, a contract for the supply of portaloos commenced on 12 June 2018 and will run for two years with the possibility of an extension by one year.”

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