As I wrote yesterday today was the debate on the recommendations by a working group for the E and E Scrutiny Committee on large scale cuts to funding for public toilets. Put in simple terms funding will be cut to 114 toilets. It does not say they will close, but this is just a clever play on words because without funding these toilets will close.
The town and parish councils are being offered these ‘surplus’ toilets, but many will see this as more of forcing the town and parish councils to take them on. As if they don’t, they will close. It hardly what you call a level playing field.
During the meeting to discuss the proposals many Councillors found the recommendations unacceptable with many, including me, felt Cornwall Council had a moral duty to provide this service. I have said before it is not just the resident who use these facilities, but the many visitors to Cornwall.
For Porthleven which I represent the plan was to close one of the two toilets. It has been decided that this small toilet is surplus, and therefore it can be closed. Closing this facility will save Cornwall Council a trifle £5k out of the proposed £1.1 million.
I feel, and know doubt many others will agree closing this toilet is pettiness of the highest order. It will probably cost more in boarding up and checking this toilet each year than the proposed saving of £5k. Even closed you would still have to fully pay or at least part pay the business rates on the building.
So in real terms I believe the savings in closing this toilet in Porthleven will be pence, or a few pounds. The real loss will be the reputation to Porthleven and the impact to the economy from tourism. People will not understand when see a toilet boarded up. The appearance of any boarded up building in a town looks bad.
Getting back to the meeting a vote was taken after a few hours debate. The vote to accept the recommendations from the working group was carried 8 votes for, 5 against. This report will now go in front of Cabinet who will make the final decision. For once, I hope the Cabinet rejects this report, but I don’t see how they will when the savings of £1.1m will still have to be made.
For me, I don’t plan to take this laying down. I will be speaking to the Town Council, businesses and the public seeking their views. I will also be officially launching a petition via Cornwall Council’s own petition process to show the feeling on this subject.
For Porthleven, today’s recommendation is bad, but for Cornwall as a whole, it is a disaster.