B&NES public toilet closures ‘don’t add up’

Anticipated savings from closing down thirteen public toilets in Bath and North East Somerset ‘don’t add up’, Conservative councillors have said.

Liberal Democrat-run B&NES Council has announced plans which would see half the authority’s public toilets closed down, in a move the authority originally said would save £120,000 a year from 2014.

However, the council has come under fire for financial incompetence after investigations by Conservative councillors revealed that B&NES has not yet worked out how much will be saved from closing some of the public toilets and has no usage figures on many of the locations.  In addition, it is also understood that several of the toilets earmarked for closure are part way through a 15-year private maintenance contract, which the Council would have to pay to be released from.

Ruling Liberal Democrat councillors have also faced criticism for breaking a promise to prioritise keeping open toilets near parks or where there is no alternative provision nearby.  Conservative councillors have said the Council has not done this in many cases, such as Larkhall, Weston, Batheaston, Paulton, Oldfield Park and Gullock Tyning in Midsomer Norton.

Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Michael Evans, said:

“First B&NES said it will save £120,000 from closing public toilets, but now admits they don’t actually have figures on what will be saved at most of the locations.  On top of this, we understand that the Council will have to buy itself out of maintenance contracts for some of the toilets and we simply don’t know if these costs have been factored in to the assumed savings.  How much will be reinvested into the other toilets also remains a mystery.

 “The numbers just don’t add up, and the whole exercise smacks of a desperate attempt to cut costs by randomly closing facilities without actually doing the sums.  This reveals woeful financial ineptitude from the Lib Dems at a time when residents need to have confidence that the Council has a grip on its finances during challenging budgetary circumstances. B&NES clearly needs to think these plans through more carefully.”