Keynsham joins toilet protest

Looks like B&NES have got more toilet trouble brewing – following  objections to the proposals to reduce the pubic convenience provision in Sydney Gardens in Bath and introduce charges for the use of the slimmed down service.

Plan of Keynsham Memorial Park.
Plan of Keynsham Memorial Park.

Keynsham’s Conservative councillors have launched a petition against planned changes to the toilets in the town’s Memorial Park.

A planning application has been submitted on behalf Bath and North East Somerset Council seeking permission to reduce the number of toilet cubicles to a single unisex toilet and one disabled toilet. Currently, the park has separate male and female toilets, with both a urinal and toilet cubical in the men’s toilet and two cubicles and the ladies.

The plans, put forward by the Council’s contractor Healthmatic, have sparked anger amongst local residents, with organisers of the Keynsham music festival also objecting to the planned reduction in facilities. Fears have also been raised that the opening hours at the toilets appear to have been cut back.

Keynsham High Street
Keynsham High Street

Conservative Councillors have slammed B&NES for failing to consult with local residents and businesses over the proposed changes and have warned that if they go ahead the alterations could lead to queues at the toilets during peak times and school holidays.

As a result of the large number of objections received from residents, all six of the town’s Councillors have joined together to launch a petition against the current proposals.

Councillor Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North), who is the lead petitioner on behalf of the six Councillors, said:

“We’ve received a huge number of complaints from members of the public objecting to these plans.

“We of course welcome investment to modernise the park’s toilets and bring them up to a better standard, including baby changing and disabled facilities. But the vast majority of people we’ve spoken to have said that the reduction in capacity to having just one unisex toilet and one disabled toilet is totally unacceptable. Residents are also concerned by reports that the hours of operation could be curtailed.

“As a result of these concerns, and the lack of consultation by B&NES, we’ve launched a petition against the planned reduction in provision, which we then present to B&NES Council.”

Councillor Marie Longstaff (Cons, Keynsham East) also commented:

“B&NES has rushed headlong into these plans without any consultation with local residents or businesses, and Keynsham residents are rightly angry.

“We don’t think that the Council has properly taken into account the high usage these toilets have at peak times, especially during the summer months when a lot of parents and children use them, or during a concert at the bandstand, or when events like the music festival are taking place.”

Councillor Alan Hale (Cons, Keynsham South) added:

“We have begun distributing our petition as widely as possible in the town and will be out and about collecting signatures over the next couple of weeks. We obviously want as many signatures as possible to send a clear message to B&NES Council.”

The wording of the petition is as follows:

We the undersigned strongly object to plans by B&NES Council contractor Healthmatic to significantly reduce the provision of public toilets in Keynsham Memorial Park. We believe the proposals to create only a single unisex provision are totally unacceptable, particularly given the demand from parents with young children in the play area, as well as audiences of the weekly concerts in the band stand and the annual music festival, and call upon Bath and North East Somerset council to put a stop to these proposals as well as maintain the established opening hours.