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Public toilets closure is proposed
2:50pm Friday 1st June 2012 in News
LEDBURY’S two public toilets could close unless the town council decides to take them on from Herefordshire Council.
The authority officially has until the end of this week to decide what it wants to do, under a consultation process on the Church Lane and Bye Street conveniences that has caught local councillors and traders by surprise.
The consultation document was actually stamped at the town council offices on May 9, and the consultation period ends today.
Councillor Clive Jupp said: “This is unacceptable. They cannot give us such a short time to consider this. This could cost us a fortune. It is wrong.”
Coun Martin Eager pointed out that the Church Lane toilets in particular are half-timbered and the maintenance alone could prove very costly if the town council takes them on.
Coun Keith Francis, speaking at a meeting last week in the Market House, said: “They will close the toilets if we don’t take them over.
That is what they are saying. It’s disgraceful.”
Another suggestion under the consultation process is to encourage local businesses to offer their toilets for public us, for an agreed annual fee. This option is being called the Community Toilet Scheme (CTS).
But Coun Jupp said: “Most of our shops don’t have toilet facilities.
This could have a huge impact.”
Annette Crowe, chairman of the Ledbury Traders’ Association, said: “It is a security matter. You just can’t supervise the shop and let people through to the back.
“This is a short-sighted, costsaving exercise by Herefordshire Council. It is a moral requirement for them to provide toilets. That is what I pay my business rates and council tax for.”
The consultation process is being headed by Bruce Evans, the senior area engineer for Herefordshire Council.
In a letter to the town council, he states: “The range of options available has the potential to move the management of public conveniences to others and increase the quality and number of public conveniences by operating a Community Toilet Scheme.”
Town councillors have agreed to resist the closure of any existing facilities, and to resist taking on any maintenance duties for the toilets without a contract and funding.
A spokesman for Herefordshire Council said: “A four-week period for this sort of consultation is not unusual. However, Herefordshire Council is keen to include the views of Ledbury Town Council’s members and has informed them that we will include their comments following the town council’s next meeting towards the end of June.
“The views of the town council will then be considered alongside the views of other individuals, groups and organisations which have been submitted.”