Otley Town Council’s newly refurbished public toilets in Orchardgate have won Gold in the 2014 Loo of the Year Awards.
Labour’s Leader of the Council, John Eveleigh, and female attendant Jackie Harold went to Solihull to collect the prestigious gold certificate at the award ceremony last Friday.
The public toilets are a boost to Otley’s tourist industry – as well as a very useful local facility.
And thanks to the Labour town Council’s policies, they’ve also created real jobs – on proper contracts, paid at the Living Wage.
Otley Town Council is a Living Wage employer, and so the six part-time staff who work on a rota system to run the fully attended loos, are all paid the Living Wage.
“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.”
Public facilities like this are important for Otley’s economy.
“High quality public toilets are a key asset for the town, 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 last weekend, it would be mad for the council not to invest properly in these facilities.”
“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.”
So here’s the difference a Labour Town Council can make – people doing useful jobs providing a valuable public service, paid a decent wage, on fixed hours, valued and treated with respect by employers, taking a pride in their work.
It’s things like this that make John so convinced of the value of Town Councils, that make him such a supporter of the Yeadon Town Council campaign.
And if Labour can achieve this locally, think what a difference to jobs and the quality of working life a Labour government would make.
Labour has already promised action on zero hors contracts, and incentives to employers to pay the Living Wage.
As Labour’s Otley Town Council goes to prove – a Labour vote is a vote for jobs, justice and success.
You’ll have a chance to vote for that – in May 2015, when Otley’s town council comes up for election, when John Eveleigh is also standing for Leeds City Council – and when Alex Sobel is our candidate for Leeds NW at Westminster.
If you want to help Alex and John and other Labour candidates in their campaign to win in Otley and in Leeds NW, why not sign up here