Councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have voted to call a halt to plans to close public toilets throughout the area.
At a Full Council meeting on Thursday 12th September, councillors unanimously backed a Conservative proposal which puts the brakes on plans by the Liberal Democrat-run authority to close up to 13 of its 27 public toilets.
The Conservative proposal commits the authority to bringing forward revised proposals as part of next year’s Council budget which would keep open public toilets where no suitable nearby alternative provision can be found or alternative funding agreed. The resolution passed by councillors also asks the authority to review plans for a new private maintenance contract to see if better value can be secured.
Conservatives have said they are delighted that they were able to force the authority’s ruling Liberal Democrat councillors to back down over their closure plans, describing the outcome as a ‘victory for local democracy’.
The vote took place after a petition organised by local residents gained over 2,500 signatures, thereby automatically triggering a debate on the issue at a Full Council meeting.
Conservative shadow Neighbourhoods spokesman, Cllr Geoff Ward, said:
“This is a fantastic result for local residents and we’re naturally delighted with the result. It’s a real victory for local democracy, and particularly for all the local residents who have campaigned tirelessly on this issue and came along to speak at the Council meeting.
“We’re very pleased that people-power has forced the Council and the Lib Dems to listen to the genuine public concern surrounding their toilet closure plan. There has been next to no public consultation and the whole thing has been mishandled from the start.
“What this means is that the Council is now committed to producing new proposals which keep our public toilets open unless suitable nearby alternatives can be found, or alternative funding arrangements agreed.
“Of course the Council faces financial challenges, but it has to deal with these in a fair and reasonable way. With the Council poised to sign a multi-million pound contract to take over the running of its public toilets, it’s hard to believe that it cannot squeeze out a bit better value to keep more toilets open. Hopefully, this is what the Council will now do.”