Further information from Cllr. Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin 086-2202029
CLONAKILTY SUPERLOO ON IT'S LAST FLUSH?
A campaign by Clonakilty Sinn Féin Town Councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin to get rid of the town's "Superloo", (which he opposed before it was even installed in the year 2000), may come to a successful conclusion early next year, and the matter will be an agenda item of each monthly council meeting going forward.
At the January Town Council meeting, Ó Súilleabháin raised the issue again (as he has done frequently over the years), pointing out that Kilrush Town Council made a decision at their budget meeting the previous week to get rid of their model.
Ó Súilleabháin said at the January meeting:
"Because of the ridiculous contract terms, we must give 12 months written notice if we intend to get rid of this White Elephant, and we will be forced to pay approx. €120,000 to do so. (25% of the annual rent/year of the remainder of the 20 year contract). As public representatives I believe that while this is an awful amount of money to pay for something we're not responsible for -or that we were never made aware of until a couple of years ago, in the long run, it's the equivalent of just over three years of holding onto the toilet. The fact that there are still seven more years left in the contract after this year means that by getting rid of it now, and paying this penalty, we will save the council and by extension the ratepayers of the town, paying dead money for a further four years (up to 2020).
When the Superloo was first proposed as a public convenience 12 years ago, Ó Súilleabháin opposed it on the basis on the enormous costs involved and it's unsuitability for a busy town like Clonakilty. (Only one person may use it at a time, and afterwards it takes around five minutes to self-clean, making it unusable). The initial cost of the Superloo in Year 1 was £18,000 + VAT, and every year since, the annual fee has risen by around €2,000, with the figure budgeted for it for 2012 being €37,000. And each year, the council management puts in a figure of €2,000 as income - another figure which I believe is totally inflated as it equates to 8,000 uses per year!
At the time, and over the years he received little support in the council chamber for his calls to get rid of the toilet - up to the recent monthly meeting.
Cllr. Ó Súilleabhain revealed he had contacted a number of the Kilrush Councillors and their decision to remove theirs was a unanimous decision there. Their facility is provided by the same comaony and has very similar contract terms.
He also said that he would be having informal discussions about the issue at next months AMAI Spring Seminar, with a view to getting other councils around the state to also raise the matter and having a national campaign to force the JC Deceaux to come to more reasonable terms.
Cllr. Ó Súilleabháin opposed Superloo from start because:
(a) Ridiculous Costs the council would have to pay for it annually.
(b) Predicted that the income would never equate with the expenditure
(c) Impractical - only one person can use it at any one time. It was promoted by council official as a necessity for tourists. I argued that if a family or a busload of visitors came to town and wished to use it, only one person could use at a time, and it then self cleans for around 5 minutes and is unusable!
As an alternative at the time he proposed that a loan be taken out to to build a state of the art loo and create a job to maintain and service it.
Raised it at every Budget Meeting since 2000
3-4 years ago Manager informed council meeting that it was a 10 year contract, and breaching contract would result in substantial fine.
Following year then revealed the contract was 20 years
Two years ago the "entry fee" to access the toilet was raised from 25 cents to 50 cents, but the "income" remained the same!
He eventually got copy of contract in January 2011 from Town Hall.
In the late 1990's and early 2000's installation of Superloos became all the rage with local councils around the country. Given the nature of the contract, which seems to be standard, I believe theres a question to be asked and answered of people at National Level at that time who may have been in contact with the Superloo company. It seems more than a coincidence that they sprang up at many locations over a short few years, despite their unsustainable economic nature.
Cllr. Ó Súilleabháin also says he deeply resent the fact that the contract terms - especially the 20 year lock-in clause was not revealed to the elected reps before the signing of this ridiculous contract by council officials and the then Mayor (Cllr. Danny Lordan). I'm sure if this was made known at the time, a lot more councillors would have rejected the Superloo. The contract document was co-signed by the then Mayor but he or any official never made the contents of the contract known to myself.
It is also my opinion that the Town Council is not obliged to provide a public toilet. While I believe we should strive to provide a facility, we can surely do better than the terms of this contract. I also believe that there many be possibility of a private individual providing a public facility in the town.
In my opinion there is more use made of the Clonakilty Superloo on the outside than paying customers, particularly late at night at weekends.