It appears not a lot of locals or visitors have sung the praises of Byron Shire Council’s new self-cleaning toilets which replaced cubicles in Apex and Railway parks.
Echonetdaily reported in December last year that the new Byron Bay Exeloo toilets would be low maintenance, self cleaning, relocatable and were vandal resistant.
But reports soon began to emerge of long queues and malfunctions.
The Echo asked Council staff if they were concerned that these new toilets were not adequate given the teething problems.
Byron Shire Council’s open spaces manager, Michael Matthews, confirmed that there had been teething problems with the new toilets.
He says the problems have ranged from toilet paper dispensing, unplanned door opening and users clogging the pipes with nappies.
‘As the amenities are under warranty, we have worked through the issues with the manufacturer.
‘This has included changing how paper is dispensed, installing new movement detection sensors and the replacement of internal touch sensitive buttons with traditional push buttons.’
Mr Matthews said the new toilets at Apex Park are very popular and the number of uses per month is at ‘around 23,000, which is very high.’
There have been about six reported incidents of unplanned door openings, he says, which have been linked to high usage times and user error.
‘To help take some of the pressure off the beachfront toilets, we’ve installed a new men’s urinal block at the surf club and this has significantly improved turnover at the busy location.
‘Initial data indicates a greater than 20 per cent reduction in usage at Apex Park Exeloo since the urinal was installed. The challenge we face at Railway Park is when a bus arrives and 40-plus people offload and want to use the toilet. In this instance, there will most likely always be a need to wait.’
Mr Matthews made the observation that the encouraging aspect of the new toilets is the robustness of the units against vandalism and improved cleanliness of the facilities.
‘Unclean amenities that were constantly vandalised was previously a common complaint,’ he said.
‘The public amenity sites are part of the Byron Bay Town Planning Masterplan and will feature new facilities. When these are completed, we can move toilet blocks to another key site,’ Mr Matthews said.