Brand new toilet facilities that the public would have to pay to use are being looked at for towns in South Holland.
Councillors branded the current public facilities as being in ‘dire need of replacing’ as a report on their state came before South Holland District Council’s cabinet last week.
It led to SHDC’s portfolio holder for place Coun Roger Gambba-Jones saying the council was already working to replace current toilet provisions with facilities the public would have to pay to use.
He told the meeting the toilets would be self-locking to limit the amount of misuse and abuse the facilities were currently receiving, including from people who have been sleeping rough in them.
“We realise there is a need to make further investment and spend money on what is currently there is money wasted in the longer term,” Coun Gambba-Jones said. “We accept we need to make the toilets usable in the short term and we’re working on that now.
“We’re also looking at the options that exist for complete replacement as opposed to refurbishment.
“People need to be aware that new facilities will be paid for facilities.
“They will need to pay to access them. They can not remain free to all.
“That isn’t because we want to make money out of people.
“Paying to enter them brings security and certainty.
“They limit the amount of time people can spend in there and they tell people that there is a way of us monitoring the use of them.”
Coun Gambba-Jones said that the public toilets in Holbeach were “particularly embarrassing” for the authority.
“My temptation was to see those closed,” he continued. “But they serve a wider audience, not just the passing public. There’s small businesses that have no other facilities as well as the drop-in centre that share the same building.
“We’ll need to look at how we replace those with modern up to date facilities.”
The meeting also heard that 40 percent of public toilets in the country had closed.
“Toilet provision is not a statutory provision, it’s a discretionary one,” Coun Gambba-Jones continued.
“Many councils have taken the easy option of closing these type of facilities as a cost cutting measure.
“That’s what SHDC didn’t want to do. We need to find a way of avoiding closure and finding a cost effective way forward.”
As previously reported in The Voice, the report of the Public Toilets Task Group has led to a programme of deep cleaning in the district’s public toilets. The meeting heard that’s well under way and a deep clean is now being carried out every month alongside daily cleans.
Other measures being brought in include better locks on the town’s disabled toilets as some were being used by rough sleepers and for the toilets at the South Holland Centre to be better advertised as an alternative.
Deputy leader of the District Council, Coun Nick Worth said: “It’s good to hear the programme is underway.
“It’s going to take a while to sort this out and I think it’s a great opportunity, as we look at our high streets and towns over the next couple of years to make that part of our town and high street initiative.
“People come into our market towns if you have good toilets it makes a big difference and an impression on people. If we get the fundamentals right it will make a big difference to our market towns.”