Leader of the Council, Labour’s John Eveleigh, and attendant Mac Macleod on duty at the loos, with the Gold award

Otley Town Council’s newly refurbished public toilets in Orchardgate have won Gold in the 2014 Loo of the Year Awards.

Leader of the Council John Eveleigh (Lab., Ashfield) and attendant Jackie Harold went to Solihull to collect the prestigious gold certificate at the award ceremony last Friday.

“High quality public toilets are a key asset for the town,” said Cllr Eveleigh: “and the staff and town council are delighted to have achieved Gold. We’re very proud of the job that the staff do. I know an award like this lends itself to all sorts of toilet humour, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we have transformed the previous dismal, dirty and unwelcoming toilets into fully staffed public loos that offer a safe, clean, warm and welcoming facility for everyone visiting the town centre.”

“In a small but important way it helps tourism and business in the town, because visitors go home with a really positive impression of our facilities. With the growing number of tourism events like the Tour de France and the hugely successful Victorian Fayre it would be mad for the council not to invest properly in these facilities.”

Otley Town Council is a Living Wage employer and employs six part-time staff on a rota system to run the fully attended loos.

“We took the decision in 2013 to become a Living Wage employer,” said John: “which means that the all the attendants and other council employees on the lowest pay grade are paid £7.85 an hour. Paying the Living Wage reduces staff turnover and sickness absence, and it benefits the taxpayer as it reduces the need for in-work benefits.”

“One or two people have questioned the cost of the toilets,” said John: “but in reality it’s a win-win situation: the loos have created jobs, the income they generate covers most their costs, and above all, they are a warm and welcoming resource for visitors and tourists that will encourage them to keep coming back to Otley time after time.”

Jackie Harold and John Eveleigh receive the award from national judge Ann Barlow