Carry on at your (public) convenience

Cornwall Council is trying to off-load the public toilet onto the town and parish council’s. Cornwall Council says it has no statutory duty to provide this service: which costs around £3m per year to run. The Council says it needs to save £1m from this budget. If Cornwall Council thinks by handing it over to the town and parish council’s this is the way to save this money, then it is missing the trick.

The official response ( I like to use spin) is it could be part of a package of devolution (click here).  However, you won’t get a reduction on council tax from Cornwall Council, but in fact you will pay more tax because the cost will just be passed onto the town and parish councils who will have to add-on extra to their precept.

Porthleven has two toilets and the cost of running these two toilets is as follows:

Shute Lane – £13,607 which includes water, business rates and electricity
Harbour Rd – £7,697 again includes the same costs as Shute Lane.

(These costs do not take into account any maintenance due to wear and tear, or worse, vandalism)

If Porthleven TC did take them over the budget required to run them as now equates to 31% of the town councils precept. This would mean the costs would have to be added to the precept, and worse, the extra to cover any maintenance/vandalism.

For smaller towns and parishes the cost of running toilets would be more than some precept for. What would happen if Cornwall Council said it would just close the toilets? Would a town or parish council then be forced into taking them over, and then be forced to add an extra tax?

Let’s hope it is just my suspicious nature and this will not happen…..


  • Sandy Angove

    I think there are a good number of local councils that would like to manage more services locally, but with a grant from Cornwall Council to help out on costs But more than the public toilets should be 'up for grabs'..If the funding issues can be resolved, what could be better than local communities delivering the local services they want and need?

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    The problem is the grant, and how much. This is about saving money.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the first comment. This could be a great opportunity for town councils to take control of local services and try to improve them. I agree that the budget provided is key. Nevertheless, I would have thought that Porthleven TC will jump at the chance to run the public toilets more efficiently, perhaps even improve them and to employ local people in doing so?

    Maybe the local Build Centre would consider donating tiles/bathroom furniture (or supplying at cost) in return for sponsorship / publicity?

    Maybe the school could run a 'design a mural' competition to improve the look of the toilets as well as investing that age group in the value of these facilities?

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    The very question was put to the town council and their response was why should they take on this liability without the funding to go with it.

    They would just have to double-tax to provide the service.

  • Gill Martin

    Why should town/parish councils take over the toilets, if the relevant funding was to be available with which to assist them, then it seems a pointless exercise transfering ownership. Cornwall council may as well just carry on running them. I suggest the funding would probably dwindle year on year, like it has done in the past for certain things. If toilets are closed, it will be detrimental to the tourist industry, visitors are unlikely to return to an area with no toilets. How much would it cost to clean areas used by the public, as a consequence of no toilets being available.

  • Gill Martin

    If the olympic torch project job, that the council has just invented, is supposed to be a viable use of funds, on the pretext that it will boost the tourism trade, then why is Cornwall Council considering risking the tourism trade by closing toilets? there maybe an aspect of denial in relation to closing toilets, but surely it will be inevitable if town/parish councils cannot afford to take them over. Surely the wish to boost tourism within the job creation of the olympic torch route organizer is contradictory to closing toilets.

  • Gill Martin

    Councils may have no statutory obligation to maintain toilet facilities, but as they cannot legally charge entry to them, they would have to lease the facilities to private companies if charging for toilets is a route that is to be followed. Private companies could then legally charge for use of facilities. The general public would of course be the losers, particularly a family consisiting of several children.

  • Gill Martin

    Maybe they should off load Cornwall Council, and lease it out, then someone else could run it efficiently.

  • Anonymous

    Whats the point in town councils taking over the running of public toilets, if there was anything to gain by it, no way would the CC be trying to get rid of them.

  • Jen Pearce

    Well, just close all the mens toilets to save money, it's easy for them to do it elsewhere. Sexist I know, but it would save money. Or do away with toilet rolls make everyone bring their own.

  • Gill Martin

    Depends on what they intend doing elsewhere!!!
    There is a limit to what you can get away with in a public place.

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