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Public toilet payments criticised

17 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Photo by Marcel Gnauk from Pixabay

Ted Peskett Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to make people pay to use toilets at coastal hotspots and to scrap facilities in other parts of a county have been criticised.

Vale of Glamorgan Council has proposed a number of new charges and fee increases to help it close a £7m budget gap.

The council’s proposal to introduce a new charge for coastal toilets could help it save £5,000 in 2024-25.

“Public right”

A decision is not expected on the proposals, which went out to public consultation last month, until March.

During a discussion about the council’s budget at an environment scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, February 13, one councillor said the proposed toilet charge didn’t make sense to her.

Labour ward member for St Bride’s Major, Councillor Joanna Protheroe, said: “It is one of those that I feel… for me it should be a public right. It is about health and dignity.”

The councillor went on to add that the proposal would only save a “very small amount of money” and it could impact older people and families with small children the most.

Cllr Protheroe added: “I just don’t think the use of a toilet should ever be something they should have to pay for. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The council’s head of neighbourhood services and transport, Emma Reid, reminded members it is not a proposal to charge for all public toilets in the county.

She added the council is “mainly looking at more the people who come to visit” coastal hotspots and the charge will help with the “massive” bills associated with cleaning and maintaining the facilities.

“That £5,000 has to go somewhere,” said Ms Reid. “So if it doesn’t go there then you would obviously need to think as a committee whether it could go somewhere else and whether you have another proposition.”

Equalities impact

The council will also carry out an equalities impact assessment to see how the proposal could affect different groups, like disabled people.

Another member of the scrutiny committee, Councillor Mark Hooper, noted how the plans to close a number of public toilets are also in the 2024-25 budget proposals.

In the council’s budget report, it states plans to close Park Crescent, Barry Multistorey, Thompson Street and Boverton Road toilets, along with reviewing toilet cleaning at country parks and reviewing opening hours, could save the local authority £100,000.

Questioning the proposals, Cllr Hooper, who is also Plaid Cymru ward councillor for Baruc, said: “This is something we really need to get a handle on. These things are used by local people all the time.”

Ms Reid said: “The aim at Park Crescent would be to close the existing toilets, but I would be looking at potentially a redevelopment there – a transformation of that building to incorporate a public toilet.”

The council opened its budget consultation to the public on January 18 and it closed on Thursday, February 15.

A draft budget is expected to be presented to cabinet members on Thursday, February 29 and a final council vote on the proposals is expected to take place on Wednesday, March 6.

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4 months ago

Is the council going to close all the toilets in their council offices?

Keith Gogarth
Keith Gogarth
4 months ago

There should be a charge but as is the case in many Scottish towns there should be a concierge to supervise and look after the facilities.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
4 months ago
Reply to  Keith Gogarth

Could not agree more

4 months ago

Sounds like a smoke screen to justify closing more public toilets. Likely outcome is it will cost more to maintain the payment and barrier equipment than is gained in charges. Also, if you charge for use, then the standard of the facilities has to be better than ‘shabby chic’, such as most public lavs tend to be.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim1

Let us not forget that this is Tory Austerity policy coming home to roost. People really ought to know the score ‘Vote Tory, lose all your public services’.

4 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Too true Peter. Other nations have been labelled as de-emerging economies but that cap rather fits the UK these days. Years of asset stripping joe public and public assets are coming home to roost.

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