This report provides an overview and sets out some options to consider in terms of the potential provision of public water fountains.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property presented the report that outlined the proposal to install four public water refill fountains in South Kesteven with costings provided for a five-year period. The costings included unit costs, direct installation, estimated water bill, projected staff resource cost (daily and weekly cleaning), intermittent gritting and a contingency for reactive maintenance.
It was confirmed that the items set out in the report would cost between £20-22,000 per unit installed over five years. No costing had currently been allocated towards the initiative, other than a potential award of £6000 for a unit in Stamford. It was reported that some risks would need to be managed if the proposal was agreed.
An offer of £6,000 had been put forward from the Harry Skells trust in Stamford to make a provision towards installation of a water refill station.
Members thanked the report author for their hard work.
One Member queried the arithmetic set out in the report, a further query was raised regarding whether the public toilets at Grantham and Bourne were maintained.
It was confirmed that Bourne and Market Deeping public toilets were maintained by their Town Council’s.
It was noted that the Council’s staff would be going to the sites of the proposed water refill stations to maintain the public toilets every day, therefore it was suggested that a new member of staff may not be necessarily needed and that the one member of staff would maintain the public toilets and the water refill station.
A query was raised over the responsibility over a public statue in St Peters Hill. It was questioned as to what Committee would be authorising the costs of maintenance and CCTV.
It was highlighted that money should be spent on water refill stations to portray the Council’s concern for the environment and to encourage communities to reduce plastic in oceans.
Another Member questioned the figures around costings for the water refill stations and that another Member had previously provided lower figures to the Committee at the last meeting.
A suggestion was raised on the funding and the possibility of seeking sponsorships, grants and Town/Parish contributions.
One Member reported statistics that had been gathered from other Councils:
· Vale of Glamorgan Council was the first Council in Europe to install their first public water refill site in 2015, they now currently have 14 sites.
· Hackney in London had 26 water refill sites.
· Winchester City Council installed their first public water refill site in 2019, furthermore, they had now installed a water fountain for dogs.
· Bradford-on-Avon Town Council with a population of less than 10,000 are in the process of installing 3 water refill stations.
It was suggested that the Council revisit the costs surrounding water refill stations to explore options of a lower expenditure.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property confirmed that Bourne, Stamford and Market Deeping Town Council had been written to, for them to take over the public toilet’s property from the District Council. Therefore, this facility would be undertaken by the three towns.
It was reported that the Council could organise and provide a facility of a grant to support Town Council’s to support them in these locations. The Council would need to look ways to facilitate a financial contribution to each of the Town Councils.
One Member further questioned the extra cost of gritting at the water refill sites due to the Council already gritting the sites where public toilets are accessed.
A query was raised on why a new staff member would be necessary. A further question was raised on the cancellation of the rental agreement and how easy it would be to have the stations removed.
The Chairman sought clarification on costings and whether the stations would be a ‘one-off’ purchase or will the Council own the unit.
It was confirmed that Stamford were just trustees of the awarded £6000 from the Harry Skells Trust and it was earmarked for installation of a water refill station. Stamford Town Council had previously voted against water refill stations due to the ongoing costs of maintaining and running the facility.
The Chief Finance Officer confirmed that notional grant contribution to the respective Town Council could be an option, however, this would not be available in Grantham due to the absence of a Town Council.
It was noted that this had not been accounted for within the budget this year, therefore further work would need to be undertaken on how the monies could be allocated, re-prioritised and receive approvals to move monies. It was suggested that it could become an April 2023 proposal and be built into the budget for the Autumn period.
The Sustainability and Climate Change Officer reported that the Council had requested costs from suppliers for both rental and ‘one off’ costings. The rental costs were provided within the report due to protecting the Council over a maintenance contract meaning if the fountain needed to be removed or replaced, it is expected no money would be lost, whereas paying for a ‘one-off’ cost may mean the money is not refundable and the Council may be liable for additional replacement costs. It was highlighted that the rental cost was the cheaper option for some of the proposed models.
A further query was raised relating to rental terms and conditions and early exit of the rental agreement if necessary.
The Sustainability and Climate Change Officer confirmed that the Council had contacted five different suppliers, who have different terms and conditions for rental which had not been discussed in detail at this stage.
It was highlighted that having a new staff member would be the responsibility of the Town Council to deliver on the Council’s behalf. The duties of current staff employed by the Council were at full capacity. It was further reported that
several staff employed by the Council did not have a Driving License so would be unable to travel to other areas of the district.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property reported that negotiations were in process between the Council and Stamford Town Council in regard to the handover of the public toilets to change from District Council to the Town Council. It was suggested that further works took place on exploring grant status for each of the four Town’s in South Kesteven.
1. That the Sustainability & Climate Change Officer works with the Council’s Communication Team and InvestSK to promote the national Refill scheme.
It was proposed, seconded and AGREED:
2. That the Council works to explore funding options for each of the four towns in South Kesteven to expedite the facility of installing water refill stations.