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Revealed: The public loos staying open and those facing closure in savings drive

By Bath Chronicle  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

Philip James and Lin Patterson outside the public toilets in Larkhall

Philip James and Lin Patterson outside the public toilets in Larkhall

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Council chiefs have released details of the public loos they want to keep at the end of a £120,000 savings drive.

Bath and North East Somerset Council is considering closing some of its public toilets to free up cash to invest in the remaining ones.

The move - part of a book-balancing exercise which will see £30 million of savings over the next three years - has been criticised by opposition Tories on the authority.

The authority has listed 13 which it wants to keep, and “aim to improve” from April 2014.

These are at Monksdale Road, Alexandra Park, Sydney Gardens, Henrietta Park, Alice Park, Parade Gardens, Royal Victoria Park play area, Charlotte Street car park, Riverside coach park, Odd Down park and ride, Keynsham Memorial Park, the Shallows at Saltford and the Approach Golf Course.

The future of another 13 is now in the balance, with some almost certain to shut, while others may be run by parish councils.

Facing closure are those at:

The Island at Midsomer Norton, because new facilities exist at The Hollies;

Greenlands Road in Peasedown St John, where B&NES says a recent ward councillor consultation revealed low levels of support for keeping the loos open - a claim challenged by local member Councillor Nathan Hartley;

Ashton Way in Keynsham, where new facilities will be provided as part of the town centre regeneration from autumn 2014;

Royal Victoria Park Pavilion, because there are facilities at Charlotte Street car park and the play area;

The automatic loos at Charlotte Street;

Gullock Tyning at Midsomer Norton because of the facilities in place at The Hollies;

Monmouth Street/Seven Dials because B&NES claims there are “extensive facilities available elsewhere in Bath city centre, like SouthGate and the new Vaults development.”

B&NES wants to talk to shops, cafes, community groups and parish councils about the future running of facilities at High Street, Paulton; London Road, Batheaston; Dominion Road, Twerton; High Street, Weston; Larkhall Square, Larkhall; Shaftesbury Road, Oldfield Park.

The first two are already jointly funded by B&NES and parish councils.

Councillor David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield), B&NES’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “We want to provide the right standard of modern and well-maintained public conveniences that meet the needs of both residents and visitors to the district. By reducing the number of public toilets that Bath and North East Somerset Council maintains, we can invest some of the money raised from selling the remainder into improving standards, hygiene, and cleanliness for the people who use them.

“We’ve considered locations serving green spaces, parks, and transport facilities as a priority ahead of shopping precincts where in many cases alternative facilities can be found. Many locations we are proposing to sell are close to either new, existing, or future public conveniences. Our plans are subject to change and full consultation.”

You can have your say at www.bathnes.gov.uk/budgetview or write to Resources Team, 3rd Floor, Guildhall, Bath, BA1 5AW.

Councillor Bryan Chalker (Con, Lambridge), whose ward includes the Larkhall Square toilets earmarked for closure, said he would rather there was a charge than the facilities were axed.

“First the council wanted to impose parking charges on Larkhall, now they want to close our public toilet.  The Liberal Democrats had claimed that they would only look at closing toilets where there are alternative ones very close by.  This is simply not the case in Larkhall.  When you go abroad to other major tourist cities it is notable how much better their public facilities area, both in number and in cleanliness. Closing down public toilets does nothing to improve Bath’s image as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I would rather they looked at introducing a small nominal fee than close the toilets entirely.”

In Weston local councillor Colin Barrett (Con, Weston) added: “Weston has a popular and busy local High Street and there are no other public conveniences nearby, so it makes no sense for the council to earmark the toilets here for closure.  Shoppers expect there to be public conveniences available close by, and local businesses had already expressed concern to me about the prospect of our public toilets here being shut.  I will be working with them to argue against the council’s closure plan, as I did when the council last tried closing these toilets.”

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  • Pompeybelle  |  December 07 2012, 11:16AM

    How can you close the loos in the RVP pavilion? There's a cafe there, and i think you'll find they need loos. So what are you going to do - say it's for customers only when you are trying to get other places to open up to non-customers? As for the 'down south' suggestion - looks like the council will sink to anything to get we refuseniks down to the dreaded Fortress SouthGate.

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  • Pompeybelle  |  December 07 2012, 11:14AM

    How can you close the loos in the RVP pavilion? There's a cafe there, and i think you'll find they need loos. So what are you going to do - say it's for customers only when you are trying to get other places to open up to non-customers? As for the 'down south' suggestion - looks like the council will sink to anything to get we refuseniks down to the dreaded Fortress SouthGate.

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  • Dave_Weston  |  December 07 2012, 11:10AM

    Is there still a regular congregation of homeless/street drinkers in Kingsmead Square - if so expecting them to "dispose" of their used White Lightning etc via a trek down to Southgate might be a bit optimistic. I can see some cases for some like the toilet at the entrance to Charlotte Street car park but I think the Seven Dials one is a risky one to close.

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  • bath1946  |  December 07 2012, 10:48AM

    Absurd, with the closure of Seven Dials there are no centrally located toilets. How are the disabled supposed to navigate the steps down to the Pump Room lavatories. I would not be surprised to see Jollys or M&S demanding payment for providing the facilities we have paid for with our taxes, and i endorse wholeheartedly the suggestion of opening up the Guildhall with signage for tourists, or are they expected to trudge down to Drearysville.

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  • MALCSALT  |  December 07 2012, 10:20AM

    Join the Students, Stag and Hen Parties and pee on the public thoroughfares! Time to resurrect Bog Island which were the best when I was a young lad in Bath."

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  • MajorFlack  |  December 06 2012, 8:54AM

    Councillor David Dixon said: "We want to provide the right standard of modern and well-maintained public conveniences." Come on David, pull the other one. The right standards and good maintenance practices have been known for 2000, yes two thousand years! Let's be honest, while Victorians put their owns ideas and gadgets into the mix, not much has changed and "modernising" can't possibly be any reason for closing convenient conveniences.

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  • TeabagTerry  |  December 05 2012, 11:42PM

    This is ridiculous. Everyone needs to use the toilet. What concerns me more is the fact that many people will have conditions which mean they have to use the toilet either more frequently, or with greater urgency, than most of us. Off the top of my head - people with bladder infections, bladder malignancies, crohns disease, coeliacs, elderly people, ulcerative colitis, bowel malignancies, alcoholics, liver disease patients, people with kidney disease, the list is endless. Are we living in a third world country now? Free access to a lavatory should be a basic human necessity.

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  • OldFascist_  |  December 05 2012, 9:27PM

    If you need a pee or worse, in a hurry, making it to Southgate or The vaults from Seven Dials in time looks a bit iffy to me! Less money spent on "Improving the public realm" and more spent on what Local Authorities exist to run - which includes Public Conveniences - might be an idea!

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  • lamail  |  December 05 2012, 3:05PM

    Uncivilized!

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  • council_spoke  |  December 05 2012, 2:17PM

    Re. comments from TwertonJasper - the toilets in the Guildhall and The Hollies are available for public use. When the Keynsham regeneration is complete in Autumn 2014, these will also be available.

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