Bath and North East Somerset Council has announced that plans to close the public toilets in Weston, Larkhall, Combe Down, Twerton and Peasedown St John are to be brought forward to this August.
The news has sparked anger from Conservative councillors, who have accused the Liberal Democrat-run authority of going back on a promise to keep the toilets open until next year whilst alternative provision is sought.
The Council has notified local councillors that notices will be put up on the toilets stating that the closures will take place from the 1st August.
B&NES plans to close thirteen of its public toilets in total. However, the closures were not expected to begin until 2014, which is when the savings anticipated from the closures were programmed to materialise in the Council budget.
Conservative councillors have slated the Liberal Democrat-run Council for pushing ahead with the closures without a proper public consultation. At the Council’s budget-setting meeting earlier in the year Conservatives attempted to halt the closure plans until residents had been fully consulted on alternative provision. However, this proposal was defeated by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.
Weston Councillor Colin Barrett (Cons, Weston), who organised a petition against the closure, said:
“It’s an absolute disgrace that B&NES has brought forward the closure of Weston’s public toilet without any proper consultation. Residents and traders on the High Street feel very strongly about keeping this toilet open, as the three hundred signatures on my petition demonstrate.
“But the Lib Dems are totally ignoring this and ploughing on ahead regardless. The Council says it’s still in discussion about alternative toilet provision in Weston, but nothing yet has been agreed and we have no idea what will happen to the toilet building itself, so presumably B&NES are happy to leave it derelict.”
Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Geoff Ward, said:
“The savings anticipated from closing down these toilets were not forecast to materialise until the next financial year, so we have no idea why the Council has arbitrarily brought these plans forward.
“We had understood that B&NES would spend the next year consulting with local communities on possible alternative provision before going ahead with the closures, but it seems this has been abandoned by the Lib Dems.”