Councils have to splash out on loos
A SURE sign that Mid Beds District Council is not flush with money is a plan to relieve themselves of responsibility for public toilets. The council hope the £70,000 a year they will save by handing over the loos to town councils or closing them altogethe
A SURE sign that Mid Beds District Council is not flush with money is a plan to relieve themselves of responsibility for public toilets.
The council hope the £70,000 a year they will save by handing over the loos to town councils or closing them altogether will go towards their proposals to shave £2m off the council's budget over the next three years.
But the burden of taking over responsibility of looking after public toilets in Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton will be put on council tax if people still want to spend a penny when they go out.
In Sandy it has been estimated that the cost of maintaining the loos at the entrance to the car park in the town centre would be £8,000 a year which equates to £1.80 per house.
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This week members of Sandy Town Council's planning, parks and open spaces committee discussed the proposals and decided after a heated meeting to take on responsibility for the toilets in the town centre.
Said Sandy Town Council clerk Trevor Stewart:"The town council is absolutely appalled by the decision by the district council without any consideration for the people of Sandy.
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"It is the people of Sandy who will have to pay for it There will be no reduction in the district council rate on our council tax but keeping the toilets will mean another £1.80 a year on local council tax.
"The district council come up with all this gobbledegook about it will mean savings but that is rubbish when the cost will go on to local council tax payers anyway.
"People need a public toilet. We have a market on Fridays and stallholders need somewhere to wash their hands and go to the toilet. A public convenience is vital but the district council have got us over a barrel - or a toilet - whichever way you look at it because we just have to accept their proposals or do away with the toilets, which is not an option."
Sandy Town Council will take on the responsibility for the toilets from April 1 this year.
Biggleswade Town Council has delayed taking a decision on how they will take on the responsibility of the public convenience in the town centre.
At the town council meeting on Tuesday night the planning committee referred the district council's plans back to them asking for more information.
"We need a breakdown on costings," said town council chairman and mayor Wendy Smith.
"The toilets are an important part of the town's facilities. We have a thriving market and are expanding so we are obliged to have these facilities."
In Potton, town council clerk Val Moles said: "We have decided, reluctantly, to take on the management of the public conveniences and will review the position after a year so as not to put any increased burden on the council tax payers of Potton."
All three town councils were invited to take responsibility for the toilets in a letter from Mid Beds District Council contract services manager Steve Whittaker which said: "In order that the council remains able to provide high quality services in the areas of greatest priority, it was felt necessary to take some hard decisions as to the priority and subsequent continuation of certain services.
"It was therefore resolved that the council divest itself of responsibility for the provision of public conveniences. How-ever, it is recognised the facilities may have a greater local importance and you are invited to take on their future operation.
"Rather than make transfer proposals at this early stage, I feel it would benefit both parties to enter into preliminary negotiations to explore options.
"However, time is of the essence as it is realised that all local authorities are at the point in the year when estimates for the next financial year are being considered.