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Traders are told to foot bill for loos
10:35am Friday 25th October 2013 in News
A ROW is rumbling in Ledbury over who should fit the bill for the town’s public toilets.
Town councillor Tony Bradford says local traders should consider meeting the cost – keeping at least one block open and preventing an increase in council tax demands next year.
Herefordshire Council has informed the town council that one of two blocks will close at the start of November as a cost-cutting measure.
Town councillors have already debated funding one of the blocks.
Coun Bradford said he believes the financial responsibilty could lie with traders.
He said: “It is not for me to tell traders what they should do but if it is crucial for traders that the toilets are left open, then they should form a hub – perhaps with local industry – and fund them.
“To my mind it is unfair that about 4,000 council tax payers should be asked to subsidise the toilets when many people are stuggling to put food on the table.”
Herefordshire Council figures show the annual cost of keeping Ledbury’s two toilet blocks open, in Church Lane and Bye Street, is about £26,000.
Coun Bradford said that adding such a sum to the town council’s present budget of £266,596 could lead to a near 10 per cent rise in town council precept demands for band D homes.
But town clerk Karen Mitchell said: “Coun Bradford is quoting figures for both conveniences but it will never happen that the town council will take on two toilet blocks.
“If we were going to take on toilets, it would be one block, not two.”
She said the town council could also possibly “make some savings” by employing an individual, not a group, to look after the toilets.
Herefordshire Council has announced the closure of one of the blocks, but has yet to specify which one.
Coun Martin Eager, an experienced retailer who is about to launch a shopping mall in the Homend, said traders should not be asked to foot the bill, because public toilets “benefit everyone”.
He said: “The toilets in Ledbury are vital, and it is a moral obligation for either Ledbury Town Council or Herefordshire Council to keep the toilets open.
“If we sit on our hands and do nothing, that is morally wrong. We should be doing all we can to keep at least one toilet block open.
“Anyone who thinks the town doesn’t need toilets is stupid. My mother and I help to staff the Heritage Centre as volunteers and even at this time of year you can get half a dozen people coming in, all looking for toilets and, in the tourist season, they are first thing people ask for when they get off the coaches.”
The issue is likely to be debated further at the next full town council meeting in the Market House on Thursday, November 7, at 7.30pm.
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