Clo­sure threat to se­lect city pub­lic toi­lets

Sunderland Echo - - What’s in your echo - By Chris Bind­ing [email protected]­me­dia.co.uk Twit­ter: @sun­der­lan­de­cho

Some pub­lic toi­lets in Sun­der­land could face clo­sure as part of bud­get pro­pos­als by cash-strapped coun­cil bosses.

Last month, Sun­der­land City Coun­cil re­vealed a “pay to pee” scheme which could see charges rolled out across pub­lic toi­lets in the city.

The rev­enue pro­posal aims to save about £155,000 as the coun­cil faces a £12mil­lion cut in ser­vice spend­ing next year.

Coun­cil­lors have heard that the pos­si­bil­ity of clos­ing se­lect pub­lic toi­lets was still on the ta­ble, with the coun­cil aim­ing to col­lect use­age fig­ures.

This in­cludes an in­frared “clicker” – a beam which is bro­ken every time some­one passes – to help pro­vide a clearer pic­ture of foot­fall.

Head of place man­age­ment at Sun­der­land City Coun­cil, Mark Speed, re­vealed de­tails on the pro­pos­als at the author­ity’s Scru­tiny Co-or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee this week. “The pro­posal that we ini­tially put for­ward was around shut­ting down pub­lic toi­lets be­cause, as you know, some of them are not in bril­liant states at all and we’re strug­gling to main­tain and clean them,” he told coun­cil­lors at Sun­der­land Civic Cen­tre.

“We all know pub­lic toi­lets aren’t nec­es­sar­ily used for what they were de­signed to be used for, they’re not nec­es­sar­ily places where res­i­dents are go­ing there and feel­ing safe.

“What we’re look­ing to do is to shut down some of the fa­cil­i­ties or to in­tro­duce a charge. What I will say about this is that it has not been taken lightly.”

The coun­cil has a port­fo­lio of 11 pub­lic toi­lets of which 10 are ac­tively used.

It is not clear which pub­lic toi­lets would be side­lined for clo­sure if the “pay to pee” scheme is dropped at a later stage.

Coun Niall Hod­son, raised con­cerns about the “neg­a­tive pub­lic per­cep­tion” of charges po­ten­tially lim­it­ing ac­cess for dis­abled peo­ple and preg­nant women.

“I would be cu­ri­ous to know what our fall back is on is­sues like this and what we can do to pro­tect th­ese peo­ple,” he said.

Mark Speed, re­spond­ing, said en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices has lim­ited abil­ity to make sav­ings as many ser­vices are “in­come gen­er­a­tors”.

He added: “There’s no in­ten­tion of us shut­ting down the (toi­let) that has just been de­vel­oped in Roker, but that’s not just a toi­let, its a clean­ing fa­cil­ity for peo­ple who po­ten­tially need a site they can be taken to by car­ers or peo­ple they’re with.”

The pro­pos­als are sub­ject to fur­ther de­tails in the Gov­ern­ment’s fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment this month.

Firmer pro­pos­als are set to be made in the new year, in line with the fi­nal bud­get in March 2019.

“We’ re strug­gling to main­tain and clean them” MARK SPEED

The plans were re­vealed at Scru­tiny Co-or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee.

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