No soap in Shepparton public toilet a council cost-saving measure, ratepayers told

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Two Gillieston ratepayers who were shocked to discover no soap in a major Shepparton public toilet during the pandemic have been told by council that it was a cost-saving measure.

In a recent trip to Shepparton, Tony and Debbie King stopped to use the public toilet adjacent to the senior citizens’ building on Welsford St.

Mr King said in normal times, no soap in a public bathroom would not be something overly concerning, but during the spread of COVID-19, a major public toilet should have soap.

“If it was during normal times you wouldn't blink an eyelid, but at this time, it's just crazy,” he said.

“We're talking about a pandemic where we're being told the best way to stop transmission is to wash our hands with soapy water for 20 seconds.

“Surely a soap dispenser and some refill soap wouldn't be costly.”

Another ratepayer, who did not wish to be named, said there had been no soap in public toilets under the Telstra tower, in the Harris Scarfe arcade and at Coles in the past week.

“I don't want to see another outbreak because council can't afford soap,” she said.

“If they don't have soap, why do they supply sinks and dryers? And why would people carry soap with them?”

While not making any direct reference to cost-saving, the council's infrastructure director Phil Hoare said the council did not provide soap for a variety of reasons including vandalism and maintenance.

“We have just recently completed community consultation on our Public Toilet Strategy which included details on fixtures and fittings; there was no feedback received requesting additional provisions,” he said.

“In regards to the reference to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we all must accept responsibility for our personal hygiene and that includes ensuring we have access to our own supply of hand sanitizer or soap, particularly when we are travelling away from our residence.”

Mr King said the public toilet was one of the main ones in Shepparton that people visiting from out of town would use.

“We try and bring people to our town with the cows and everything, and we have a dunny with no soap?" he said.