Protesters battle to save town’s public lavatories
TRADERS, residents and councillors gathered outside public toilets in a seaside town to protest against plans to close them.
More than 7,000 people have signed a petition against plans to shut the facilities in Porthcawl.
The John Street toilets, which are in a Grade IIlisted building, are set to close in January under cost cutting plans by Bridgend council.
The proposals have met with outrage in the town with residents calling them “ludicrous”.
Karen Ford who runs the five Maple shops in John Street said: “Footfall is already down by 20% – how are we going to attract people to Porthcawl if these toilets shut? It’s absurd.”
Margaret Minhinnick who runs Sussed, an ethical and fairtrade shop, added: “It’s really important to have some loos in the town centre.
“It’s not only for tourists and shoppers but for kids and older people.
“You can’t have a town centre without a decent set of toilets.
“The council has an opportunity to make something that’s a real feature and bring them back upto-date.”
Sophie Page who runs Koko, a jewellery shop in the town, said: “It’s ridiculous. It’s such a basic public facility.
“It will give even more reason for people not to visit the town when we want people to shop locally and use the independent retailers.”
Simon Green, chairman of the Bridgend coalition of disabled people, said the closure would be “disastrous”, adding many people rely on having the toilets there when visiting the town.
Wheelchair user Ann Keeper said: “When you’re disabled the first thing you look for is a toilet. The disabled toilet here is brilliant, they’re always really clean.”
Town councillor Mary Emment-Lewis said: “BCBC [Bridgend County Borough Council] says Porthcawl is the jewel in the crown of the county but they’re stealing the jewels from the town. If there aren’t any public toilets, where are people going to go?”
And town councillor and deputy mayor Graham Walter said: “You can’t have a seaside town without public toilets.
“BCBC has got their priorities wrong – they’re sending £11.3m to the City Deal and they say they haven’t enough money to keep the toilets open.
“They’ve just agreed £10,000 to stage a 10k run next year in Porthcawl which is great but what’s the point if there are no public facilities for people to use?”
Resident Kim Pearsall said the residents of Porthcawl would have to start offering dog poo bags to holidaymakers when they visit the town because there wouldn’t be any public toilets.
The local authority says the only way to save the toilets is if Porthcawl Town Council takes charge of them under the Community Asset Transfer scheme.
But the town council says it has not been given enough notice to take them on from January.
Town councillor Les Tallon-Morris urged BCBC to “stop the madness” and allocate funding to keep the “vital facilities” open.
He said: “The closure was sprung on the town with just three months’ notice trying to force us to take over the running of this grade two listed building which has been neglected by BCBC for many years.
“We understand BCBC has to make cuts in the current financial climate but this should not be one of them.
“If BCBC insists on closing these facilities we ask the closure is deferred to the next financial year and that they be handed over in a better condition.”
Bridgend councillor Richard Young said discussions were ongoing with Porthcawl Town Council over the possible transfer of the toilets and the local authority “remained hopeful of a positive outcome”.
He said: “Due to the financial situation we simply cannot continue to run public toilets in the way that we do now.
“If an arrangement cannot be reached with the town council, then the toilets will have to unfortunately close.”
Protesters gather outside Porthcawl town centres public toilets which are threatened with closure