Not open and shut case for public toilets
By Bath Chronicle | Thursday, August 29, 2013, 09:00
Residents will be forgiven for being more than just a little vexed by the announcement from B&NES Council that is to invest £2 million in improving public toilets – whilst at the same time closing many down.
Kathleen Gerrish and Lin Patterson lead the protest against the closure of toilets in Larkhall
Our Lib Dem-run Council says that the £2 million contract will result in a plush makeover of the remaining toilets, including automatic doors and new 'easy clean' surfaces, as well as new turnstiles so that the private company can introduce charges to pay for cleaning and maintenance.
Yet at the same time, toilets in Larkhall, Weston, Twerton, Peasedown, Combe Down, Ashton Way in Keynsham and Gullock Tyning in Midsomer Norton are still set to close their doors for good.
This announcement gives lie to the claim by B&NES that it has to close these toilets due to lack of money, and it has to be questioned whether this £2 million is money well spent.
What people want from their public toilets is for them to be convenient, clean and open.
All the other bells and whistles can wait for another day.
With each toilet costing only around £11,000-12,000 a year to keep open, it seems implausible that it would not have been possible for B&NES to tender a contract which allowed more toilets to be kept open.
Did B&NES even include the option of keeping more toilets open when inviting bids for the contract?
Where public toilets need some work to bring them up to standard this of course should be done, but ploughing a large amount of money into expensive renovations when communities are fighting to save their local loo from closure simply doesn't seem to make sense.
Before this new maintenance contact comes into force next April, B&NES should listen to its residents, go back to the drawing board and bring forward more sensible proposals which allows more local toilets to remain open.
Councillor Geoff Ward Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods Upper Swainswick Bath