B&NES urged to ‘end confusion’ over future of public toilets

Bath and North East Somerset Council is coming under increasing pressure to clarify the future of public toilets in the district which the authority has earmarked for probable closure.

The calls for greater clarity over the fate of a number of the area’s public toilets come as councillors prepare to debate the issue of toilet closures at a public Council meeting next week.

So far, the Lib Dem-run Council has stated that it is still looking for alternative provision for public toilets in Larkhall and Weston in Bath, as well as the Gullock Tyning toilets in Midsomer Norton. However, confusion has continued to surround the future of these and other toilets if no suitable alternative is found.

Conservative councillors have said that communities impacted by the closures deserve to be told whether or not their toilets will remain open permanently if no alternative provision is found. Conservatives are demanding that the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet puts an end to the confusion and makes clear the future of all public toilets in advance of next Thursday’s Council Meeting.

Conservatives have tabled a question to the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet asking that the Council clarify the situation with these at-risk toilets.

Conservative shadow Neighbourhoods spokesman, Cllr Geoff Ward, said:

“It’s really unfair on local communities impacted by the closures to keep them guessing about the future of their public toilet.

“B&NES has been looking into the possibility of alternative provision in various locations for many months now. It’s time for the Lib Dems to end the confusion for local residents.

“We’re therefore pressing the Council to clarify the fate of the toilets still under threat of closure, including what progress has made on finding alternatives and what will happen if no alternatives are found. The Council must do this in advance of next Thursday’s Council debate.”

The Conservative calls come in the wake of an announcement by Bath and North East Somerset Council that it plans is to invest £2 million in public toilets over the next fifteen years as part of a new maintenance contract, despite planning to close a number of toilets down.

Councillor Ward added:

“It will strike many residents as pretty strange that at the same time as the Council is saying it is investing £2 million in better public toilets, it is closing nearly half of them down. At the moment it seems like the Council is handing a private company £2 million to run its public toilets, who will then also be able to keep the revenue generated from charging for their use. We haven’t seen the fine print of the contract, but from what we know it has to be questioned whether this is a good deal for the taxpayer.”

The subject of public toilet closures will be considered by councillors at a B&NES Full Council meeting next Thursday, 12th September, after a petition against the closures was signed by more than 1,000, thereby automatically triggering a debate on the issue.