Portable toilets for drunks? That's a big relief

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PORTABLE urinals are set to be trialled in the city centre in a bid to combat the nuisance of party-goers relieving themselves in public.

A WEE PROBLEM: A temporary urinal in London's Soho is put to good use

The open-sided plastic structures would be installed in "hotspot" city centre locations such as taxi ranks on Friday and Saturday nights, and then removed the next day.

If the trial is deemed a success they will become a regular weekend fixture.

The Grassmarket and Cowgate have been identified by the city council as two of the worst areas for public urination, with almost a third of all fixed penalty notices for the offence issued there.

It would cost around 9000 to buy the urinals, with ongoing costs for their servicing, installation and removal.

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A spokeswoman for the city council said: "Urinating in the street accounts for a third of all fixed penalty notices for antisocial behaviour and a large amount of residents' complaints.

"We are keen to address this issue with temporary urinals at some of the 'hotspots' around the city."

There are also plans to increase street patrols by police and council wardens in the Grassmarket between 2.30am and 3.30am to cut down on public disorder.

The proposals are outlined in a report to the city council's policy and strategy committee on the way the Capital's night-time economy affects residents' quality of life.

The urinals are already a common sight in many other UK towns and cities, and have previously been used in Aberdeen.

The open-sided free standing plastic structures most commonly used have four "cubicles", each one partially shielded by partitions at the side.

As well as these basic plastic units, which are understood to be similar to those set to be trialled in Edinburgh, several London boroughs have installed hi-tech versions which rise up out of the pavement at weekends and are connected directly to the sewers.

The report is a follow-up to a previous report on the economic benefits of the Capital's nightlife.

City leader Jenny Dawe said: "Obviously there are some people, particularly in the Grassmarket for example, where they see a different side to it, so this is addressing the impact that it has on residents and their quality of life. It shows that quite a lot is already being done to try to minimise the impact and that will continue being the case, because clearly we don't want to have disgruntled residents just because something's helping Edinburgh's economy."

She said that schemes such as the urinals and the use of "Please be quiet" notices were intended to complement the city's licensing system, rather than make up for its shortcomings.

It is not clear when any trial of the temporary urinals would begin. She added: "Obviously licensing is very heavily involved in monitoring the situation.

"There's the Unight scheme which is operating best practice in how you manage the stewarding and queues of people and as people leave premises. There are some things that we can do nothing about. For example, in the Grassmarket you get groups of people coming for hen nights and stag nights."