Holding a Gun to the Head on Public Toilets

Right, just when I thought there was a ceasefire on hostilities to the proposed cuts in funding to 114 public toilets as blogged about HERE. It seems whilst everyone was waiting to see what happen; letters were being sent to town and parish council basically saying take them over or else. Don’t believe me, read for yourself the letter sent to Porthleven Town Council (the first part of the letter is the standard introductions).

“The outcome of this review is that Cornwall Council can offer a grant for the public conveniences that have been identified to be “Retained”. Unfortunately, those public conveniences that are not on the retained list will no longer be funded”

Hang on a minute, I thought no decision had been made, but this letter says they ‘will no longer be funded’.

“The grant will consist of 100% funding for the current fixed costs and a 50% grant for the current cleaning costs. From our discussions with a number of Town and Parish Councils it is believed that locally managed cleaning would be significantly less expensive than the current service provided”

Interestingly, there is no mention of how long this grant will last for apart from in a small spreadsheet which says 2011/12. Also, is it telling we must pay a lower wage to someone locally managed? Does this mean locally managed people work for less, or Cornwall Council pays too much?

Now, for the grant offered:

Shute Lane

  • 2010/11 costs £8342.13
  • 2011/12 amended costs £8,342.13 (includes cleaning costs £2,886.67)
  • Grant available £6,898.80
Harbour Road
  • 2010/11 costs £5,524.07
  • 2011/12  No funding
  • Grant available £0

 The current funding of two toilets equates to £13,866.20, but Cornwall Council wants Porthleven to do this for £6,898.80. A drop of  nearly £7k. This is just the running costs and does not take into account any maintenance or worse damage.  It gets worse in the next part of the letter.

While, the overall grant will remain constant, there maybe some flexibility on which public conveniences in your area are retained and those for which funding will cease. Unfortunately, if your council cannot agree these terms, further reductions in the provision of public conveniences will be likely.

Whoa…. Have I read this wrong; or does it really say take this offer or else?  The letter is finished off with the coup-de-grace:
This is our final offer and 

This proposal is subject to final ratification by Cabinet on 14th December 2011.

Now, Porthleven Town Council has to decide what it is going to do.  Either telling Cornwall Council where to go, or work up a budget that includes the missing running costs, and any additional costs that running a toilet will need. Considering the town council generally only meets once a month on the second Thursday; which is TODAY! It could (and properly have to) arrange another extraordinary meetings to deal with this fast-ball from Cornwall Council.
Tonight’s meeting of the town council is likely to be very interesting…..


  • Gill Martin

    Local cleaning would be slightly less expensive I suppose, regarding fuel costs currently used, to access rural areas. Maybe they should introduce a tourist toilet tax as opposed to a bed tax, the cost could be added on at local accomodation, B&Bs, hotels, campsites etc and the money then contributed to the town councils. Alternatively perhaps a vote of no confidence for Cornwall Council leadership.

  • Richard Rayment

    I don't see how the local council can charge tourists for the upkeep of our toilets. Not because I disagree with the idea of it, but mainly because it would probably rely on a change of law (can a small council do that?). I remember hearing that Cornwall Council had the idea of a 'tourist tax' and also wanted changes in the 50% reduction in council tax on second homes. However I don't see how these changes will occur quickly enough, if the changes in funding for toilets for local councils occur. Personally I'd make the large holiday home companies within the village pay If I could, because I have a certain disliking to what they are doing to the village, and I think these companies should contribute more to our local economy year round. However I'd more be interested in schemes that had some of these companies profits going to funding for building of low cost homes for local people who can no longer afford to live in the village etc… than to merely fund some loos which are mostly used by the tourists housed by these companies anyway…

  • Gill Martin

    You have a valid point. The time scales involved with the implementation of any new legislation are usually far too long to solve any imminent issues. Regarding low cost housing, personally, I would like to see social rented housing built alongside any future affordable homes.

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