Recommendations to Close Public Toilets Passed

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.

8 comments

  • Rod Lyon

    Although it is correct that Cornwall Council are not obliged to provide public toilet facilities, but as you have stated, they should see it as a moral obligation. In some places the toilets are not a prerequisite, especially in the winter, as possibly local residents would not use them very much, but in the summer when many places are extremely busy with tourists, this is a service which should be provided.

  • Pique Perfumes

    Completly against this move. It seems odd that in Porthleven they would close the toilet nearest the beach, which is also in the best condition of the two and likely to be less prone to vandalism as the other is somewhat hidden away.
    Then I guess common sense is not driving this decision.

  • Anonymous

    I am a regular visitor from the Midlands and spend a lot of time throughout the year in the Helston area and wish to say how angry I am at the proposed toilet closures, most of which I have used on a regular basis. What are the families to do in places such as Gunwalloe where they like to spend the day on the beach ! What about the older generation of tourist that cannot control their bladders well ! Does the council know how often these facilities are used. I visited last week to find that a lot of these toilets were closed and there were a lot of angry tourists finding that the doors were barred. The tourist season is changing, many more people seem to be coming to visit from October onwards and I feel this will have a detrimental effect on visitor numbers along with the fact that responsible dog owners are made to feel unwelcome in many places and pubs and restaurants have become really greedy putting their prices up so that only people on London wages can afford to eat good food. I have been coming to Cornwall since the age of nine some would say I am obsessed with it but I have seen many changes and don't like the direction Cornwall is going. I visited Devon on the way back last week and found toilets open and clean maybe we should start going there ! Maybe more visitors will think this way too !!!!
    Wake up Cornwall Council

  • Anonymous

    surely this is an opportunity for Porthleven TC to show some leadership and ownership. It's sad that the CC can't afford to upkeep both toilets but it now seems a done deal.
    Why doesn't the TC now come up with some fund raising plans to save the toilets? On the Friday evening before the food festival, over £3,000 was raised at a charity auction in the Lifeboat House in aid of the school. So, it must be possible for the TC to take a proactive stance. Maybe if TC-led the facilities could actually be improved.

  • Cllr Andrew Wallis

    To last Anon,

    Yes, the TC could take over the toilet. That is the easy part. This all comes down to finance. To run this toilet cost just under £5,500, add in general maintenance and other costs you could be talking £8k-£9k yearly cost.

    CC will give two/three years worth of grant funding and then the costs have to be fully met by the TC.

    If the TC was going to take over one, it might as well take over both. This could work out around £25k per year. This is an additional 35% on the current precept, but no reduction in the over all CC council tax.

    The question really is do the population of Porthleven want to have this added to the precept?

  • Anonymous

    Do you know what the average precept is in Porthleven please? It's difficult to know what up to 35% extra means. thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Of course we dont want to pay twice for the toilets,we already pay for them through our council tax,are CC going to give us a refund,of course they arent.
    Why should the taxpayers of Porthleven be expected to pay again for a toilet that I bet is used by over 90% of out of towners,if they want to use it let them pay for it,or let the business that make money out of visitors pay for it,why should the taxpayers pay for it,let Trevor Osborne pay for it.
    What a school fund raising event has to do with the council funding a toilet is beyond me,not exactly comparable are they.

  • Gavin Lang

    Would it not be possible to open the toilet beside the Institute during the main tourist season and the other out of season, or are they just going to let the closed one become an eyesore as it gradually falls down.

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