The Service Lead StreetScene gave a presentation that set out some of the headlines of the results from the recent Public Toilet consultation, issues raised and considerations to address some of the concerns expressed. He explained the difficulty of needing to invest in public toilet buildings but not being able to afford to do this across all 27 sites.
Discussions included the following;
· It was regrettable to have to close any toilets. Colyton needed its toilet to support local businesses as well as younger and older residents
· Consideration to paid access to all public toilets in order to continue with present provision
· The toilets at the Green in Budleigh Salterton were essential not just for the town but visitors alike as this area was used for public functions
· There was a public expectation for the provision of toilets therefore keep them all open buying charging for usage
· Could there be an extra year’s grace for Honiton TC to keep their toilets open
· It was important that no members of the public were disadvantaged because of needing to use the toilet
· The district needed to be looked at as a whole, the budget had to be managed it was not affordable to have all the toilets open
· SW Water profit from water supply and sewerage charges, they should be making concessions to district councils for the running of public toilets
· Get businesses to take on category B & C toilet provision with firm agreements in place that this was adhered to
· Town and Parish councils could take on the running of their toilets
· This was not an easy subject. The finance situation was very serious and unsustainable. Predicted shortfalls were still expected even with any new measures taken up
· The need to provide prepaid access cards
· Work with Town and Parish councils to keep the toilets open, selective charging was the way forward
The Portfolio Holder Coast, Country and Environment and members from across political parties wished to thank Andrew Hancock and officers for the enormous work they had put in to get to this stage of the review. They thanked the 1300 respondents to the consultation for their valuable feedback as well the Overview Committee for their in-depth thinking on this matter.
Having received the report and noted the contents, members;
Senior Officers approve
1. the proposals and the categorisation of the public toilet stock outlined in section 4 together with the specific mitigations (in section 4.6) to protect access.
2. For the 8 sites to be confirmed as Cat B & C (section 4.10) and the 6 sites where further discussions are required to confirm categorisation (section 4.12), delegate authority to the Portfolio Holder for Coast, County & Environment in consultation with the Portfolio Holders for Economy & Asset Management and Leisure, Sport & Tourism and the Strategic Leads for Finance and Housing, Health & Environment to complete negotiations with interested parties (including the Towns and Parishes) and to complete the related documentation to affect transfers (including the mitigations set out in section 4.6). Where leases with community partner organisations cannot be struck within 12 months continue to negotiate with all Town/Parish Councils to seek to retain Category B and C toilets through Parish and Town Precepts for another 12 weeks. Honiton King’s Street to be kept open until April 2023 to afford Honiton Town Council further time.
3. Implementation of paid access at Category “A” toilets sites following refurbishment. Payment to be by Contactless payments at 40p with cards being made available for people without card or mobile phone.
4. That in the future more reliable data for toilets EDDC own, should be provided so that the usage of toilets can be assessed to show how popular toilets are at certain points of the day / year.
5. That the Council write to all relevant local businesses and make a powerful case for them to offer the use of their toilets to non-paying customers who may have disabilities and illnesses that aren’t always visible, given the findings of the local consultation which shows the high extent of local need.
6. That the Council writes to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government and our 3 MPs to request that he lobbies the Treasury for a fund to be created to help Councils further invest in public toilet provision and to make toilets a mandatory rather than discretionary service given their positive role in ensuring people with health issues can live their lives to their full potential.
Cabinet recommends to Council;
7. that the Transformation Reserve be used to fund the Cat B & C sites where an alternative use is proposed, allowing them to remain open until these transfers are complete (for up to a year as set out in 5.10 and until April 2023 for King’s Street, Honiton) to minimise the impact of closed public toilet sites on those with protected characteristics.
8. That the Transformation Reserve be used to assist with legal and transfer fees for town or parish councils taking on the running of any B & C sites through this review.
A review of public toilet stock and investment in its buildings was overdue and now necessary due to the budget deficit and proposed medium term financial plan’s saving against the provision of the public toilet service.
The recommendation(s) was/were approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.