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Caught short: Fear for loss of more loos across Herefordshire
THE closure of many of Hereford’s public conveniences is leaving shoppers and businesses caught short – with more loos “likely” to soon shut their doors forever.
According to Lucy Hurds, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire, businesses are concerned about lost trade and tourism, among other things.
She discussed concerns about the closures while on a tour of Hereford High Town with Phil Bennion, MEP for West Midlands, last week.
She said: “The businesses are all saying that they are a lot of concerns. People are saying that coach trips are not bothering to come in because of the worry about toilets being available.
“They are concerned about the lost trade. I think we should aim to be encouraging as much tourism as possible into the centre of the city to complement what’s happening on Edgar Street.
“It’s of vital importance and it’s something we are pushing on.”
A Herefordshire Council spokesperson confirmed that further closures of current facilities are “likely”, although these are yet to be agreed and discussions are ongoing.
Members are still being recruited to the Community Toilet Scheme – which currently has more than 40 members – to “mitigate further closures”.
But businesses that have not signed up to the scheme are still finding themselves being called upon.
“Some businesses have said they have been having requests that they wouldn’t normally get where people are being caught short. They are concerned over the insurance and being able to offer facilities like that,” Ms Hurds added.
The Community Toilet Scheme, according to Herefordshire Council, is designed to “increase footfall and support local businesses by encouraging people to visit them and hopefully make a purchase without feeling obliged to”.
The statement continued: “Those involved in the scheme have spoken enthusiastically about their involvement and it is now due to be rolled out across the county.”
Leominster, one town that could be affected, was recently congratulated for the quality of its toilets in the Daily Mail.
Journalist Brian Viner wrote that the loos by the main car park “might not be a place for a picnic lunch, but they were clean and miraculously free of graffiti”, in a story about the nation's public toilets.
And there are fears that if conveniences have to close in the county’s market towns there will be a serious effect on the tourism industry.
Gill Ding, manager of Leominster Tourist Information Centre, said public loos are “vital” to encourage visitors to the town and added that Leominster will do its “very best” to provide facilities one way or another.
But Lucy Hurds said she has seen no signage advertising the community toilets.
She said: “They keep talking about signage but I haven’t seen any. They need to be doing a lot more to show which premises are willing to let people use toilets.”
A cabinet member report is due to be prepared in the near future regarding the ongoing development of the scheme across Herefordshire.
The council says it will continue to liaise with local organisations such as town councils regarding future provision.
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