31/03/2011 - Permalink

Town and parish councils to take over running of public toilets

Related topics: Community / Leisure, culture and heritage

A number of town and parish councils will take over the running of their local public toilets this week (week ending Friday 1 April 2011), with initial support from Shropshire Council.

Shropshire Council has been working with town and parish councils over the last six months to transfer public toilets as part of its wider approach to transforming local public services.

As well as providing the best possible value-for-money for local council tax payers, this move will protect these essential facilities for local people and visitors in the future.

The transfer of the toilet facilities will be at no cost to the town or parish councils, and Shropshire Council will continue to support the transition by providing a one-off financial grant, minor repairs and maintenance, and in some areas adopting streetlights or reducing costs for street light operation to parish and town councils.  This will allow local and county provision of different services to sit with the best provider.

These changes do not include the toilets owned and operated by Shrewsbury Town Council, as these will remain the responsibility of the town council.

Councillor Martin Taylor Smith, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for development services, said:

“We understand the importance of public toilets and the vital part they play within local communities.  Therefore, we are eager to protect them by doing things differently.

“Over the last six months we have been supporting, negotiating and providing practical assistance to town and parishes to transfer the running of these essential facilities, and we will continue to work with them to support future delivery.

“We are also currently developing a community toilet scheme that will allow people to use existing commercial premises, during business hours without an obligation to purchase.”

Although most towns and parishes were more than happy to ensure a transfer took place, other towns and parishes wished to pursue other initiatives in their communities and declined Shropshire Council’s offer, or no agreement could be reached.

So far, successfully-transferred public toilets include Ludlow, Whitchurch, Ellesmere, Bishop’s Castle, Wem, Oswestry  and Clun.  However, the council is still in discussions with towns and parishes, and expects that there will be further additions to this list.

These transferred facilities will benefit from being run at a local level, enabling them to best meet the needs of local people and visitors. The relevant towns or parishes will also be able to choose whether they want to charge people to use the toilets which could subsequently improve service quality, at a reduced cost.

For those towns and parishes that chose not to operate their public toilet, these will unfortunately close from 1 April 2011.  At this point in time these are Clee Hill, Craven Arms and Prees Heath.  Public toilets in the Bridgnorth area will continue to operate until 2013, due to existing contractual arrangements.