Largs councillors have defended the introduction of the pay facility at the Gallowgate Street toilets in town following an online backlash.

Comments on social media have criticised the move to introduce a 40p charge at the facilities - which were recently revamped at a cost of £300,000.

People also have to use a card to 'spend a penny', with no option to pay by cash.

Wendy Low Thomson from Largs Community Council described the lack of a cash option as "discrimination".

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Gary Hume said: "It is absolutely ridiculous, penalising families and elderly folk that might have continence issues."

And Jane McFadyen said: "I think this is terrible having to pay. Just another money spinner. Atrocious."

And others have questioned why they need to pay when revenue from the seafront car park helped pay for the refurbishment of the toilets in the first place.

However, Independent councillor Ian Murdoch has explained it has been a necessary move to introduce the new system in order to keep the public loos open and well maintained.

He said: "I am not happy about having to pay for anything, and in an ideal world, we wouldn't have to do this, but the seafront car park revenue fund has been stretched.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Cllr Ian MurdochCllr Ian Murdoch (Image: North Ayrshire Council)

"Income through the pay gate is required to help with the current maintenance cost of the toilets.

"Maybe we need to review the whole way the seafront car park revenue is spent.

"I could not get parking marshals brought in to provide motorists with help and advice in finding available car parking spaces, something which is even more necessary with the incoming DPE [decriminalised parking enforcement] next month. And we still need long stay car parking.

"The income from the pay gates will keep the public toilets clean and well maintained to a reasonable standard. 

"Ideally I thought the £300,000 should have been enough to keep all the public toilets open in Largs, rather than have to hand them over to community groups to run - not just to provide a refurbishment for the Gallowgate Street toilets.

"To my mind the £300k refurb was way too much. I opposed the measure,  and thought it could have been done a lot cheaper.

"Personally I am not against the pay gate charge as they are helping to keep these public toilets open.

"I'd rather there was a pay charge for the public toilets than close them, and in today's economic climate it is just not possible for the facility to be free of charge."

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall, who voted in favour of the £300,000 spend on the upgrade, said: "We could have had the toilets refurbished at half the price a few years ago but it took until we had five councillors.

"The choice was to do up the toilets at the figure then quoted, or leave them in a smelly state.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Cllr Tom MarshallCllr Tom Marshall (Image: North Ayrshire Conservatives)

"I don't accept the criticism put over on the social media posts that a lot of people don't have bank cards to pay.

"Most people have a bank card and can use it, and as for young people, if they don't have a card, they can go to Wetherspoons or a cafe and buy a coffee and use a toilet there, and younger people don't have the similar need as older people.

"The introduction of 40p pay gates are pretty common around the country.

"At Luss and in the Lake District it is actually 50p, but we decided to keep it at 40p."