Council to consider plans to give businesses loo-t for public toilets scheme

 Thanet council is considering a community loo scheme Photo John Horton

Exc-loo-sive

Public toilets across the isle could be closed in favour of a ‘community loo’ scheme with local businesses or facilities transferred to town councils.

Thanet council is carrying out a review into the future of the isle’s public toilets as part of a bid to save £175,000 in its 2019-20 budget.

Councils are not required by law to provide the loos and continuing cuts to local authority funding have resulted in public toilets plunging by more than 600 across the country since 2010.

In 2010 Thanet council maintained 33 public toilets, dropping to 28 last year.

‘Advantage to businesses’

Cabinet member for Finance, Cllr Ian Gregory, said a community loo deal with local businesses has worked in other areas and will be considered for Thanet.

He said: “All across the country councils are coming up with different ways to deal with this, like in Kingston where businesses agree to let people come in and use the toilets for nothing. The advantage to businesses is that it gets people through the doors and many councils pay them around £1,000 a year for the inconvenience.

“It is the best way of providing toilets for the cheapest amount.

“This isn’t just about saving money by closing toilets, to make it work businesses would need to be paid.”

The scheme involves businesses putting a sticker or poster in their window to let people know the facilities are available for use. The council then has a monitoring procedure in place, which includes spot checks, and needs to provide extra provision when there are large public events being held.

The London borough of Richmond Upon Thames was the first authority to launch a community loo scheme in 2002, relaunching it in 2005 and now having a chain of 70 businesses onboard.

But the British Toilet Association says public toilets are important for health and hygiene, a growing elderly population and those affected by disabilities or other needs.

A spokesman said: “There are an increasing number of specialist user groups, whose lives are affected by the state of Britain’s public toilets. These include people with mental or physical disabilities and their carers; the infirm or elderly; people with babies or young children and people of all ages who are coping with a range of medical conditions.”

Cllr Gregory confirmed work on the review is already underway and council officers are “confident” that savings can be made.

Site sell-off

The listed urinal at Park Road will be sold Photo Frank Leppard

Last month Cabinet members approved the sell-off of sites including closed public toilets in Beresford Gap, Birchington, Marina Road, Ramsgate, Minnis Bay, Birchington, Park Road, Margate, St Johns Cemetery, Margate and Albion Street, Broadstairs.

For the toilet at St Johns Cemetery preference will be given to a use that is related to bereavement. The Albion Street toilets will be transferred to Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council as part of their regeneration plans.

Land and toilets in Minster will transfer to Minster-in-Thanet Parish Council, which already looks after both sites.

Budget postponed

The asset disposal plan is part of the coming budget which is yet to be passed after it was withdrawn from debate on Thursday (February 7).

Photo John Horton

The move came following discussions between Thanet council leader Bob Bayford and Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling. The budget proposals contain  plans to ditch £500,000 funding to keep Ramsgate port in readiness for a ferry operation and axe a further £130,000, totalling £630,000 (or £730,000 in a full year) from Thanet council’s 2019/20 budget.

The vote on the budget was postponed to give the government more time to work out a Post Brexit resilience contract with Seaborne Freight which had won a £13.8 million deal to provide extra capacity on a yet to begin Ramsgate/Ostende route.

But that contract with Seaborne has now been axed, with the Department for Transport saying Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements and the firm’s previously unrevealed backer Arklow Shipping pulling out of the deal.

A DfT spokewoman told Reuters that the government is in advanced talks “with a number of companies” to secure additional post Brexit freight capacity — including through the Port of Ramsgate.

It is not yet confirmed whether this move will now bring the budget vote back to council imminently.

12 Comments

  1. This idea was years ago and I don’t think it every took off. I’ve got a better idea tell the government that residents and visitors to our towns need to wee from time to time so we would like public toliets Invest in good clean toilets. stop selling them off or closing them down.

  2. As a business owner in Cliftonville I went to a meeting about this idea and other airhead ideas This was sometime ago and presented by a lady that lived outside the area and clearly had never worked in retail and had no knowledge of the area and what type of customers the shops sometimes have to deal with.

    Thanet council paid for a company to do a report on the area when all they really needed to do was ask local businesses for ideas and then to listen to them!
    This toilet system is very dangerous and your probably find the areas that have this are more policed.
    If you put a sticker on your shop offering this service you would not be able to be selective of who uses your facilaties. We all know that almost all public toilets get bad gossip about miss uses, especially unfortunately Cliftonvilles. I could just imagine having to get my staff to clean up after drug paraphernalia was left and also say sorry only one person at a time. Then also the issue of not beinig able to refuse a person the use of the toilet. Then you have the extra insurances a business would have to think about and the higher costs of maintaining them. Oh and I forgot to mention I have a Jewellers!!!

    Their was also suggestions of signs in Northdown road pointing to the direction of the sea. Also signs in Margate pointing to Northdown road shopping area (which did use to be presant in Margate but were removed! Probably to try to keep tourists in the council’s preferred shopping area!

    The best one that in my opinion would not work and would look untidy and also why should the shops do this as the council should, was as the council has removed most of the benches that were in Northdown road because of anti social behaviour. It was suggested in
    the same meeting we should put chairs outside our bussinesses for people to sit on. Again shops would have to pay more insurances and possible deal with accidents and fake claims of açcidents. Also staff time putting chairs in and out and making sure they are not taken or miss placed or miss used. Again I mention I’m a jewellers!!! At least they wouldn’t have to bring anything to break my windows if they want to rob me!!!

    Let’s see what else Thanet Council can come up with next.

  3. There are simply not sufficient businesses with sufficient toilets to cope with the demand !

    On busy days there are queues at the public toilets opposite the Station Roundabout on Margate seafront. The Cinque Ports pub is not going to want hoards of sand encrusted bodies traipsing through its premises to use its loos alongside those paying customers consuming food and drink.

    I believe Mr Gregory may be a former hotelier – and as such I am sure that he too would not have granted unfettered access to the public to share the toilets with his paying guests . . .

    Public toilets need to be available for the public – it is as simple as that.

  4. Another great idea-people need to go, so have them hunting around shop windows to find a shop that allows them to go-one assumes of course that in reality they would have to actually buy something in return.

    The problem also as the council found out is their conveniences are also used by homeless drug addicts to shoot up & have gay sex-I myself heard this in the ones at Cecil Square a couple of years back. In the one next to Iceland I observed a middle aged man literally falling asleep upright against the wall due to whatever he had taken, I doubt shops want to have this stuff going on, to have to clear up after them, or expose legitimate paying customers to it.

    Indeed if TDC had actually got a grip on the homeless & addiction issues rather than ignoring it, then they would have not had to have closed these toilets for an extended period of time last year-punishing people who want to spend a penny due to the actions of a minority of vandals & addicts, nor had to pay vast sums for repairs & extra cleaning.

  5. I must commend the toilet facilities at Westwood Cross-they are immaculate with regular cleaning, proper locks on the cubicle doors that are much harder for the vandals to break, wonderful soap dispensers & hand dryers etc. Unlike the ones in Margate & Ramsgate which make your skin crawl just walking into them.

    • Funny I went a few weeks ago and the lift up to the toilets was out of order so elderly and disabled people would find it very hard to use them. Also it is only at weekend Westwood cross is really busy where high streets still tend to get more foot traffic even if they are not buying.

  6. Tourism is one (small) ray of hope for Thanet. Invest generously in developing the area. Don’t drive the tourists away by depriving them of essential facilities. Positively discourage the use of M2 lay-bys as toilets before visitors are left with few alternatives but to join the other illicit users.

  7. What a silly silly idea. Getting rid of the public toilets and expecting business owners to let their toilets out to the public is not the answer. Any kind of large event that Margate holds creates queues & queues of people waiting to use the toilets. We need refurbished toilets, perhaps make them chargeable, a small fee 10/20p. The council couid put some money aside from the 3 million refurbishment for their new offices and put some of that into providing a good standard of public toilets in the area.

  8. Went to the public toilets in car park off of Broadstairs High Street yesterday they were boarded up as closed due to vandalism. Along with Dolphin car park loss closed and the one toilet in Vere Road Car park closed during winter there are no public loss it seems in Broadstairs. Along with high parking charges it puts people off of shopping there which will kill the High Street. God knows what will happen during folk week and water gala as no extra portaloss put in place.

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