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Town plans a super-loo if toilets takeover succeeds

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 17, 2013

By Richard Wevill

  • The future of public toilets in Mid Devon is uncertain

  • Cllr Dennis Knowles

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TOWN councillors in Tiverton are planning to create a 'super loo' if they take over district council-operated toilets threatened with closure.

To help recoup the cost of refurbishing the Market Car Park toilets to a high standard, a pay system could be introduced.

Town councillors met to debate their budget last Monday and have now earmarked a sum towards the taking over of the running of a number of toilets.

With the likely introduction of an area for coaches in the William Street Car Park, it is suggested that the town council should ensure there is one good-quality loo nearby which can be used by coach passengers.

The council is also proposing to take over the running of toilets in Westexe Recreation Ground subject to them being refurbished before they are handed over, and in People's Park, which, like Westexe, would be reduced to summer-month opening.

Toilets in Phoenix Lane and Lowman Green could be closed, with Mid Devon District Council said to favour the latter building beside the river being converted into a cafe.

However, town clerk John Vanderwolfe told councillors that the Shop Mobility Office, in the Phoenix Lane multi-storey car park, had been approached about allowing their toilets to be used by the public.

The town council agreed to provide a grant of £2,000 to Shop Mobility for this gesture and the authority may also approach Tiverton Museum to see if it would be willing to enter into a similar agreement.

The conclusion to a report circulated to councillors, states: "The present cost of maintaining the number of toilet facilities within Tiverton is very high. It is believed that if Tiverton Town Council does not take over ownership of these facilities the district council will have little choice but to close most of them."

It currently costs the district council £56,350 to provide the six toilets in Tiverton not located in council buildings.

A working party which looked into Tiverton taking over some of the loos found that around £33,000 would be required in the council's budget for the operation of toilets.

No decision on the cost of using the market toilets has been taken but councillors felt people would have a higher regard for conveniences they had to pay to use.

Cllr Dennis Knowles said that although he was broadly in favour of the idea, the only toilet closure he was concerned about was the possible loss of those at Lowman Green.

"It is a long way from Wilcombe to walk down to with children," he said.

However, other councillors said they felt this facility was probably not well-used, given that it was near a large Tesco store which was open 24 hours a day for most of the week.

The council agreed to set aside £33,000 in its 2014/15 budget for taking over public conveniences, while further negotiations take place around other possible partnerships with local businesses.

The costs of providing toilets is high because of a combination of vandalism and cleaning costs and non-domestic rates charges.

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