Revealed: The public loos staying open and those facing closure in savings drive
Council chiefs have released details of the public loos they want to keep at the end of a £120,000 savings drive.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is considering closing some of its public toilets to free up cash to invest in the remaining ones.
The move - part of a book-balancing exercise which will see £30 million of savings over the next three years - has been criticised by opposition Tories on the authority.
The authority has listed 13 which it wants to keep, and “aim to improve” from April 2014.
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These are at Monksdale Road, Alexandra Park, Sydney Gardens, Henrietta Park, Alice Park, Parade Gardens, Royal Victoria Park play area, Charlotte Street car park, Riverside coach park, Odd Down park and ride, Keynsham Memorial Park, the Shallows at Saltford and the Approach Golf Course.
The future of another 13 is now in the balance, with some almost certain to shut, while others may be run by parish councils.
Facing closure are those at:
The Island at Midsomer Norton, because new facilities exist at The Hollies;
Greenlands Road in Peasedown St John, where B&NES says a recent ward councillor consultation revealed low levels of support for keeping the loos open - a claim challenged by local member Councillor Nathan Hartley;
Ashton Way in Keynsham, where new facilities will be provided as part of the town centre regeneration from autumn 2014;
Royal Victoria Park Pavilion, because there are facilities at Charlotte Street car park and the play area;
The automatic loos at Charlotte Street;
Gullock Tyning at Midsomer Norton because of the facilities in place at The Hollies;
Monmouth Street/Seven Dials because B&NES claims there are “extensive facilities available elsewhere in Bath city centre, like SouthGate and the new Vaults development.”
B&NES wants to talk to shops, cafes, community groups and parish councils about the future running of facilities at High Street, Paulton; London Road, Batheaston; Dominion Road, Twerton; High Street, Weston; Larkhall Square, Larkhall; Shaftesbury Road, Oldfield Park.
The first two are already jointly funded by B&NES and parish councils.
Councillor David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield), B&NES’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “We want to provide the right standard of modern and well-maintained public conveniences that meet the needs of both residents and visitors to the district. By reducing the number of public toilets that Bath and North East Somerset Council maintains, we can invest some of the money raised from selling the remainder into improving standards, hygiene, and cleanliness for the people who use them.
“We’ve considered locations serving green spaces, parks, and transport facilities as a priority ahead of shopping precincts where in many cases alternative facilities can be found. Many locations we are proposing to sell are close to either new, existing, or future public conveniences. Our plans are subject to change and full consultation.”
You can have your say at www.bathnes.gov.uk/budgetview or write to Resources Team, 3rd Floor, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW.
Councillor Bryan Chalker (Con, Lambridge), whose ward includes the Larkhall Square toilets earmarked for closure, said he would rather there was a charge than the facilities were axed.
“First the council wanted to impose parking charges on Larkhall, now they want to close our public toilet. The Liberal Democrats had claimed that they would only look at closing toilets where there are alternative ones very close by. This is simply not the case in Larkhall. When you go abroad to other major tourist cities it is notable how much better their public facilities area, both in number and in cleanliness. Closing down public toilets does nothing to improve Bath’s image as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I would rather they looked at introducing a small nominal fee than close the toilets entirely.”
In Weston local councillor Colin Barrett (Con, Weston) added: “Weston has a popular and busy local High Street and there are no other public conveniences nearby, so it makes no sense for the council to earmark the toilets here for closure. Shoppers expect there to be public conveniences available close by, and local businesses had already expressed concern to me about the prospect of our public toilets here being shut. I will be working with them to argue against the council’s closure plan, as I did when the council last tried closing these toilets.”