Lake Macquarie dunny days numbered

NINE public toilets are planned to be demolished in Lake Macquarie under a city council plan to upgrade, replace and close toilet blocks.

It costs the council $439,685 a year to clean 107 toilet blocks it keeps open 24 hours a day, a council report said.

The 2010-11 budget to repair public toilets is $175,936, with half of that cost due to vandalism and graffiti.

A council audit found 50 toilets in fair condition, 33 in good condition and 24 in poor condition.

"The majority of people do not expect councils will provide all public toilets," a council report said.

"Shopping centres, food outlets, entertainment venues and service stations are regular public-toilet providers."

Antisocial behaviour at public toilets included vandalism, graffiti, theft, assault, sexual activity, drug use and arson. Few of the toilets met the needs of disabled people.

The council had four employees to clean public toilets, with high-use toilets cleaned once a day. Insufficient cleaning led to complaints, so the report recommended 12 high-use toilets have two cleans daily.

The council received 3000 service requests a year and a quarter of those were for work on public toilets, mostly due to vandalism.

After examining 107 public toilets, the report recommended retaining 55, replacing 14, modifying or upgrading 11, demolishing nine, conducting safety assessments on nine, opening seven only when sport occurs at the site, and relocating two.

Councillors had listed public toilets as one area to be examined in a service review, which aimed to cut costs. The report said the closure of some toilets would reduce maintenance and cleaning costs, but the replacement, upgrade and extra cleaning of others would increase costs.

Councillors will vote tonight to call for public comment.