Porthleven Town Council held to ransom on Public Toilets
At the August meeting of Porthleven Town Council the issue of the two Public Toilets in the Port was discussed. My view is Cornwall Council is off-loading these facilities in a rather tactless way. In simple terms Cornwall Council is saying; ‘take them over or we will close them’. It is pretty hard for a town or parish council to negotiate with both hands tied behind their backs while having to hop.
I should say in fairness to Cornwall Council, they have agreed to give a two-year grant to Porthleven Town Council to ‘help’ with the running. This is the running costs of one toilet, plus 50% of the cleaning cost. It should be noted that this is only for one toilet, as the other gets no grant. They will hopefully refurbish the toilets to a standard that is agreeable to the town council, and not just Cornwall Council. There will be a yearly rent of £1, too.
The two options of take them over or one will close is a hard one for the town council. If the town council takes them over residents will see an increase in the town council precept to fund them, while not seeing a reduction in the overall Council Tax set by Cornwall Council. A double tax. If it does not take them over, one will shut for good.
To combat this difficult situation I have been talking to various people at Cornwall Council to try to highlight the importance of both these toilets remaining open, and pointing out it should not be the town council who has to run them. The response I got was ‘there is no money to pay for them’ or the often wheeled out justification is ‘they are not statutory’. Car parking is not statutory, but you do not see a rush to off-load these!
I wish it was simple just to call Cornwall Council bluff and see if they will close them. However, that would not achieve anything but seeing a toilet close. That will harm Porthleven for both residents and visitors. The one earmarked for closure is the Harbour Road toilet. A Petition could be started, but again that will be most likely treated with a ‘thank you and next….’
The town council is now trying to get the best grant and refurbishment it can. Once this has been agreed in principle, the town council will be holding a mini-referendum on the proposals to the residents and business of Porthleven. That way, the town council will know it has either the backing or not. Then the town council can decide accordingly.
What should the town council to do? Take them both over or allow at least one to close?