At a meeting of the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet this week, in answer to a question from Conservative councillors, it was confirmed that the toilets in Weston would remain open ‘until a replacement has been agreed’, but that the Larkhall toilets were still earmarked for closure from next April.
Adding further to the uncertainty, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods did not confirm that the Weston toilets would stay open ‘permanently’ unless a suitable alternative is found.
The news has led to accusations of confusion and double-standards by the Liberal Democrat Cabinet, with Conservative councillors calling on the Council to clarify the future of the toilets for residents.
Councillor Geoff Ward, Conservative Shadow Neighbourhoods spokesman, said:
“This whole thing has been completely mishandled by B&NES right from the start. First the toilets were going to be closed from 2014, then not until replacements were found, then the closures were brought forward to this August. Now some will close in August, some in April, and some we simply don’t know the future of. It’s a complete fiasco.
“It’s hard to understand why the Council can be definitive about the closure dates of some toilets but not others. This confusion is unfair on residents, who deserve to be given clarity over the future of their public amenities.”
Weston Councillor Colin Barrett (Cons) added:
“We’ve now been told that the Weston toilet will remain open until a replacement has been agreed, but bizarrely the Council won’t use the word ‘permanently’. At the same time, Larkhall’s toilets have been given a firm closure date of the 1st April. So we don’t know what the Council will do if no alternative is found for Weston. Will they remain open permanently or not? The Council needs to end this uncertainty and be straight with residents.”
- The question tabled by Cllr Geoff Ward and reply from Cllr David Dixon was as follows:Cllr Geoff Ward:
Can the Cabinet Member please confirm that both the Larkhall and Weston public toilets will now remain open permanently, unless and until suitable alternatives have been found? Was the new Public Health Unit consulted on their view on the health impacts and effects which might occur as a consequence of toilet closures, especially in respect to our elderly residents?
Cllr David Dixon:
The Weston toilets will remain open until an alternative has been agreed. Officers are working on options with Ward Councillors. The Larkhall toilets will remain open until 1st April 2014 whilst Ward Councillors and officers work through options for alternative provision.
The Health & wellbeing Board was operating in shadow form at the time that the MTSRP proposals, including toilet closures, was published. All Council services and partners, including Public Health, were party to the draft proposals last year.
An Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) was done (now available to view on this public webpage –http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/your-council-and-democracy/equality-and-diversity/equality-impact-assessments/financial-pla) and formed part of the initial consultation with PDS panels in late 2012 on the savings proposals for the MTSRP. An overarching Equalities Impact report (which considered public health impacts) was compiled, related to the impact of all service savings proposals, during the MTSRP public consultation period, and including the Resources PDS panel, Cabinet and Council meetings in February 2013.