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FLUSHED WITH SUCCESS

A Suffolk town is feeling flush with success after toilet blocks reopened after several years of closure. The two public conveniences in LOWESTOFT – one in Fen Park and the other in Pakefield Street – have been refurbished by the town council as part of an upgrade programme. Town councillor Elise Youngman performed the openings by cutting ribbons of toilet paper. More than £20,000 was spent on refurbishing the blocks, with a further £7,000 on security fencing.

 Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2024

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PLATINUM AWARD FOR PUBLIC FACILITY

DUNSTABLE Town Council has retained the prestigious Platinum Award for Loo of the Year for its Ashton Square Toilets. This achievement reflects the Council’s commitment to providing the highest standards, and dedication to upholding cleanliness, accessibility, and overall excellence of public toilet facilities to its residents and visitors. The Loo of the Year Awards is a nationally recognised competition that celebrates the very best public toilets. It is considered the ‘washroom standard’ and is an established benchmark of washroom provision and compliance with national standards. Ashton Square Toilets offer a welcoming and hygienic environment, accessible to all including disabled access, a free Aunt Flow sanitary dispenser in the women's toilets, accessible children’s steps for the sinks, family toilet seats and baby changing facilities in both female and male toilets.

 Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2024

 

PAY BY CARD

Visitors caught short in KNUTSFORD, Cheshire, no longer need to worry about not having change to access the public toilets following the installation of card readers to two cubicles. The unisex accessible cubicles, which also include a baby change table, can now be accessed by credit/debit card and contactless payments. This is in addition to access via a RADAR key or coin. “We know that an increasing number of people don’t carry cash so wanted to ensure that accessing our public toilets is easy for everyone who needs to.” said town clerk, Adam Keppel-Green. The Town Council will be reviewing the impact of the card terminals on usage at the toilets and may consider adding terminals to the other cubicles in the future.

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2023

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NEW CHANGING PLACES FACILITIES

State-of-the-art new Changing Places facilities have been officially opened in Pevensey Bay, while funding has been secured for more in Polegate. WEALDEN District Council, East Sussex, contractors recently installed the new facility next to the existing council-run toilets in the Sea Road Car Park and it was officially opened by council dignitaries on 13 March. More than £78,000 was secured by the council from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Changing Places Fund for the facility, which will offer residents and visitors a completely accessible Changing Places toilet, designed to provide sufficient space and equipment for people who are not able to use the toilet independently. The new unit offers a height adjustable changing bench, a peninsular toilet, and a ceiling hoist in addition to space for carers. Pictured above are dignitaries from Eastbourne Access Group, Wealden District Council and Pevensey Parish Council.

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2023

GRANTS FOR DISABLED TOILETS

From refurbishments to disabled toilet facilities to providing basketball kits, WEYMOUTH Town Council has awarded just over £50,000 to community, voluntary and charitable organisations for various projects benefitting Weymouth residents. Projects that benefitted from grant funding over the last year include disabled toilet improvements at the bowls club; warm welcome facilities for the homeless; rowing, basketball and sailing clubs; community radio; the Scouts and many more.

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2023

WINNERS FLUSHED WITH SUCCESS

SEVENOAKS Town Council in Kent entered the Loo of the Year Awards, known as the Washroom Oscars, for only the second time in 2022 and won Platinum for facilities at the Bat & Ball Centre and Bat & Ball Station. Caretakers Warren Ellis and Derrick Rodgers received certificates as Washroom Cleaners of the Year. The council was fourth overall in the league table for local authorities, up from ninth the previous year, and was the highest placed in the South East. Meanwhile Billingshurst Parish Council in West Sussex was delighted to retain a Platinum award for its Mill Lane facility. Clerk Greg Burt said that the council was rightly proud of its award-winning facility, and paid tribute to staff who kept it clean and kept complaints to a minimum.

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2023

TOILET DISCRIMINATION APPEAL IS REJECTED

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has rejected an appeal by EARL SHILTON Town Council in Leicestershire against a ruling that it discriminated against its female clerk by providing “makeshift” gender-neutral toilets. Karen Miller won a sex discrimination claim against the council in 2020. She complained that she had to put a sign on the door of the men’s lavatory when she was using it, and that she had to walk past a urinal to get to the single cubicle. She also had to wait for the council to install a sanitary bin. Judge James Tayler ruled that she had received treatment “less favourable than that accorded to men”. He added: “A woman being at risk of seeing a man using the urinals is obviously not the same as the risk of a man seeing another man using the urinals. The claimant was not provided with toilet facilities that were adequate to her needs, because of the risk of coming across a man using the urinal and the lack of a sanitary bin.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2023

 

ECO-TOILET INSTALLED

CALNE Town Council has installed a fully accessible eco-toilet at the Wiltshire town’s Recreation Ground. As well as providing a much-needed facility, it confirms the council’s commitment to climate emergency measures, as the toilet is waterless and therefore uses fewer resources than a standard toilet. This was the first in a series of improvements to facilities at the Recreation Ground. The director of council services, Steve Nash, said: “Our councillors are making positive changes in the town to encourage more visitors, which will help local businesses and support residents while maintaining support for tackling the climate emergency.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2023

GOLD LOO OF THE YEAR

SWANLEY Town Council in Kent has won a Gold Loo of the Year Award for its public toilets in Swanley Park. The national award scheme is an established benchmark of washroom provision and aims to encourage the highest possible standards. Each entry is judged by an unannounced inspector against a range of criteria.

Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2023

 SEVENOAKS Town Council in Kent entered the Loo of the Year Awards for the first time this year with its Bat & Ball Station platform public toilet and was delighted to be awarded a Loo of the Year Platinum Award. It was also named as one of the top ten local authorities for public toilets, picking up a Loo of the Year Premier League Local Authority Award. It hopes to build on this success and enter more of its public toilets in future years.

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2022

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REVAMP FOR TOWN’S TIRED TOILET BLOCK

CREWKERNE Town Council in Somerset opened its newly refurbished toilet block in Falkland Square in February 2022. The old toilets have been replaced by two modern unisex pods, alongside a fully refurbished disabled toilet which also provides a changing unit for babies. New features include automatic flushing and timed door locking and opening.
The council took over management of the toilets from South Somerset District Council over seven years ago. Updating them has long been a priority, and when the district council’s Market Town Investment Group opened its Capital Priority Project Scheme, it successfully bid for £20,000 to help fund the project. As it evolved, councillors were able to secure additional funding to extend heating and ventilation to the disabled toilet and improve the surfacing on the path.

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2022

PUBLIC FACILITIES GO PLATINUM
BILLINGSHURST Parish Council in West Sussex has won a Platinum rating for its public toilets in the Loo of the Year Awards, announced last autumn. It entered the competition for the first time in 2018, winning a Gold award, and was delighted to reach an even higher standard on its second attempt. The council has leased the facility in the centre of the village from Horsham District Council since 2001. In 2017 it embarked on a comprehensive remodelling of the block, ditching separate male and female areas, which were prone to vandalism and antisocial behaviour, for three unisex units, following advice from the local crime prevention officer. The works cost £67,500 and were funded largely by S106 contributions and the council itself. Parish clerk Greg Burt said: “After our Gold award, we took on board all the judges’ helpful remarks, and will be doing so again this year in an attempt to achieve a Diamond award.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2020

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LOO REFURB HELPS KEEP VILLAGE GOING

YOULGRAVE Parish Council in Derbyshire has opened a new toilet block, including a fully accessible toilet for disabled users. The building is located in the Coldwell End car park, a popular starting point for walkers.
It was paid for mainly from visitors’ donations collected over many years through an honesty box, with additional funding from county councillor Simon Spencer and an Awards for All grant. It incorporates a council storeroom and a village map. It was built in traditional style by a local firm who constructed the original toilets in the 1920s.
“At a time when public toilets are being closed across the Dales we felt it important to recognise that visitors and local people alike need access to basic, everyday amenities,” said Cllr Graham Elliott, chairman of the parish council. “Spending by visitors in Peak District villages like ours is important in keeping local businesses viable. We want to send a clear message that we value visitors who spend locally and put something back into the places they come to enjoy.”
Clerk Matthew Lovell reports that the council manages several other toilet blocks, as well as a large playing field, play equipment and allotments. In recent years it has built a BMX track for younger residents and a fitness trail for older ones, set up a new youth group for teenagers and installed four defibrillators around the parish.

Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2020

HI-TECH TOILET PLANS ‘SUBMITTED IN ERROR’

PORTHCAWL Town Council in South Wales has backtracked on plans to rebuild public toilets in Griffin Park with a set of hi-tech features to deter vandalism, rough sleepers and sexual activity. A design statement submitted to Bridgend Borough Council included features such as weight-sensitive floors to ensure that only one person at a time could use the cubicles, with any violent movement activating a jet of water to soak the occupants, automatically open the doors and sound an alarm. Use would be time-limited to deter rough sleepers, and dousing equipment would also prevent smoking and drug-taking. However, the council has since said that these particular plans for the £170,000 project were submitted in error. It added in a statement: “Unfortunately, the town council’s enthusiasm and intentions have been misinterpreted. It is committed to providing new toilets that will be good quality and of traditional construction. The various features listed in the design statement will not be included.”

 

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2019

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RIBA HONOUR FOR VILLAGE SCHEME

After 15 years of hard work and fundraising by a community group in the village of HATHERSAGE in Derbyshire, latterly supported by the parish council in raising a PWLB loan, April 2018 saw the opening of the redeveloped “Heart of Hathersage”. The community space scheme received a Peak District National Park Planning award in November 2018, reports clerk Steve Wyatt, and in May it won a Regional Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award and two special RIBA awards – Client of the Year for Hathersage Parish Council and Architect of the Year for architect Simon Gedye. The awards were announced in a ceremony at Nottingham Trent University on 9 May. The citation from the judging panel stated: “This is a project of perseverance by the local community to realise the potential, and the funding, for a central village site that was once dominated by a ubiquitous and run-down public toilet block. Fifteen years have passed since its inception, and a new community space for the village has emerged. This new space was formed by rotating a new building through ninety degrees from the footprint of the previous toilet block to unlock an outdoor room where there was none before.” It concluded: “As we left the visit, with people just sitting on the benches in the early spring sunshine, it was clear that this project could have easily reverted to type and provided a utilitarian response. Through the dogged determination of a few individuals, the collaboration of many stakeholders, and combined with the eye of a good architect, Heart for Hathersage instead demonstrates how good design can and does make a real difference.

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2019

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Council chairman Cllr Paul Berry, clerk Greg Burt and Chris Pyzer with their certificates

GOLD AWARD FOR TOP-CLASS TOILETS

BILLINGHURST Parish Council in West Sussex has won Gold in the 2018 Loo of the Year Awards for its refurbished public toilets, which it has saved from closure.
The parish has leased the facility in the centre of the village from Horsham District Council since 2001. In 2017 it embarked on a comprehensive remodelling of the block, ditching separate male and female areas that were prone to vandalism and antisocial behaviour in favour of three unisex units, following advice from the local crime prevention officer.
The works, undertaken by specialist firm Healthmatic, cost £67,500 and were funded by Section 106 contributions and the parish council itself.
Clerk Greg Burt said: “The public toilets are one of the most important facilities provided by the council and are highly valued. This award is testament to the excellent refurbishment and the hard work of our cleansing contractor, Pyzer Cleaning Services. The judges were not only complimentary but also suggested small changes that might win us a Platinum award in 2019. In addition, vandalism has reduced to virtually nil, so it has proved to be a good investment.”

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2019

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LOO ON A ROLL

SHAFTESBURY Town Council in Dorset has completed the renovation of its Bell Street public toilet facilities. Its grounds team worked on the project with several organisations, including sanitation company Healthmatic, social enterprise Build Love, Weston College and HMP Guy’s Marsh.
Tracy Harrison, Head of Reducing Reoffending at Guy’s Marsh, said that the project had added huge value within the prison for both staff and offenders who took part.
Nikki Dodds of Build Love said: “This fantastic opportunity has enabled selected men to work under supervision in a practical learning environment and bring their coursework to life. The individuals were supported with practical work experience learning, which forms part of their coursework for NVQ qualifications delivered by Weston College.”

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2019

COUNCIL BOWS OUT WITH GRANT AWARDS
West Dorset Council has approved £380,000 worth of grants for community projects, before it disappears in a local government reorganisation. The county’s current nine councils are due to be replaced by two larger “super councils” in April.

The awards include £70,000 to BEAMINSTER Town Council to help build new public toilets and £60,000 towards a skatepark project for local youngsters. A one-off grant of £90,000 has been awarded to Dorchester Town Council for a project to enhance the area around the Town Pump in South Street. This is conditional on the town council committing £100,000 of its own money to the project, which will cost more than £1 million in total. It will include new paving, seating and bollards to restrict the flow of traffic, and work is scheduled for January–May 2020.
In addition, £50,000 has been awarded to the Dorchester Heritage Joint Committee to help develop a tourism strategy for the town. This grant will be matched by funding from the town council and will be used to promote attractions such as Dorset County Museum, Shire Hall and the Keep Military Museum.
Cllr Mary Penfold of West Dorset Council said: ”Each scheme will provide significant benefits to local communities and West Dorset as a whole. I look forward to seeing these projects develop.”

 Clerks & Councils Direct March 2019

LUDLOW Town Council in Shropshire is seeking expressions of interest from contractors to refurbish public toilets at the Linney Riverside Park, a popular recreation area. According to clerk Gina Wilding, works will begin in March and will be completed by July. Cllr Mark Clarke said: “The refurbishment of the public toilets is hopefully the beginning of a longer project to improve the facilities for families at the Linney.”

 Clerks & Councils Direct March 2019

 DESIGNS TO DEAL WITH DEMENTIA
AS part of an improvement programme for its publicly owned facilities, GODALMING Town Council in Surrey is aiming to ensure that as many of its services as possible are provided in a dementia-friendly environment. Its refurbishment of public conveniences in Crown Court has improved energy and water efficiency and also now incorporates dementia-friendly colour schemes and signage, as well as step-free access.

With support from The Peter Caudle Memorial Trust, the council is also refurbishing the interior of its landmark Pepperpot building, while refurbishment of the Local History Gallery at Godalming Museum is nearing completion. The museum project is being overseen by 92-year-old John Young, who has been managing projects there for over 35 years, and is a freeman of the town.

 Clerks & Councils Direct March 2019

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PLAN PROGRESSES AS LOOS GET MAKEOVER

SHAFTESBURY
Town Council in Dorset has moved closer to completing a Neighbourhood Plan to help shape development over the next 12 years. More than 15 consultation events took place with a cross-section of groups and organisations over a two-week period from 18 February, as well as a number of public consultation sessions.

The consultations were based on research and analysis by local volunteers of data collected over the past year. This included a survey of residents on aspects of planning such as housing and employment, green spaces, the town centre, design and heritage and community facilities.
Tim EdwynJones, chair of the Neighbourhood Plan group, said: “All the volunteers have worked so hard over the past year and we are very close to being able to share our aims and objectives for the plan with the wider community. The team should feel very proud of their work.”
Meanwhile a project to renovate public toilets in Bell Street began on 21 January. The council recently resolved to invest £36,000 to improve toilet facilities in line with the town’s status as a major tourist destination. Its grounds team is working on the project in collaboration with local businesses and social enterprises. The facility is expected to reopen on 4 March in time for the spring season.

Clerks & Councils Direct March 2019

CREATING BETTER PUBLIC SPACES

 Frome_Toilet_Macfadyen_Sept18  Cllr Peter Macfadyen promoting the You’re Welcome initiative

FROME Town Council has relaunched its “You’re Welcome” initiative, in which local organisations and businesses allow the public to use their toilets without needing to make a purchase. Four new businesses have signed up to the scheme, in return for a contribution of £250 from the council towards upkeep. Premises display a sticker in their windows, and the scheme also includes services such as free water ref lls to help cut down on single-use plastic.

 Clerks & Councils Direct September 2018

 

COPELAND MP Trudy Harrison has joined a community campaign to keep public toilets open at Grange in Borrowdale in Cumbria. The campaign to save the toilets is being led by a group of local residents. The toilets will close at the end of the summer and sold at auction if an agreement cannot be reached.

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2018

RESPONDING TO RESIDENTS’ NEEDS

To celebrate the wedding of Prince Henry of Wales and Meghan Markle in May, SEVENOAKS Town Council in Kent has installed a bench in the Vine Gardens. It was unveiled by the town’s new mayor, Cllr Roderick Hogarth. Meanwhile Cllr Richard Parry, chairman of the open spaces and leisure committee, has offcially opened a new public toilet at Greatness Recreation Ground. A noticeboard has also been installed, giving information about events, meetings and emergency contact details. The town clerk, Linda Larter MBE, said: “These facilities have been provided as a response to requests from local residents. The funding has come from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which is paid by developers relating to their planning applications.

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2018

LOO RESTORED TO FORMER GLORY

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Pictured (left to right) are:
Cllr Sarah Cockburn-Price; Jack Greenwood; Cllr Barry Hodgson, chair of Trawden Forest Parish Council; the mayor and mayoress, Cllr David and Mrs Barbara Whalley, who cut the ribbon; Martin and Jacquie Watson; and parish clerk Adele Waddington.

TRAWDEN FOREST Parish Council in Lancashire has recently completed the renovation of an Edwardian cast-iron gentleman's toilet. The rare structure, on Skipton Road, was declared unsafe in 2014 and closed off for public safety. After two years of discussion, the council decided that it should be restored and reopened. The urinal was originally installed for a local tramway in around 1903. It is believed that it came as a “flat-pack”, as the only bolts are in the guttering and all the other components are held in place by grooves and peg holes. The structure would originally have been smaller, with the outer panels added at a later date. Almost 12 months of work went into the renovation, and an opening ceremony was held on 30 April, attended by dignitaries and workers from Marlyn Engineering who carried out the project

Pictured (left to right) are Cllr Sarah Cockburn-Price; Jack Greenwood; Cllr Barry Hodgson, chair of Trawden Forest Parish Council; the mayor and mayoress, Cllr David and Mrs Barbara Whalley, who cut the ribbon; Martin and Jacquie Watson; and parish clerk Adele Waddington.

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2018

BOTTOMS UP FOR NEW PUB TENANT

SWANLEY Town Council in Kent has leased part of a former public toilet building to a new micro pub, the Cotton Mill. The business is the second tenant in the building, joining a taxi f rm. It will be open seven days a week from 7am until 11pm, selling drinks and snacks and with alcohol on sale from 10am daily. It has an outdoor seating area, and is located near the town’s railway station. The new pub gives the town its fourth licensed premises. It offers a range of ales and will cater for events organised by the town council, including Armed Forces Day and the 1812 Charity Night. It was formally opened by local MP Sir Michael Fallon. At the ceremony, council CEO Steve Nash said: “This is a great use of a redundant facility. It will help increase footfall to the town and will generate valuable income for the town council.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2018

 GODALMING Town Council in Surrey has agreed terms with Waverley Borough Council for the transfer of management of public toilets in Godalming town centre and the village of Farncombe. The town council has entered into a 20-year lease on both buildings, allowing them to reopen after their sudden closure by Waverley last year.

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2018

GREAT DAWLEY Town Council in Shropshire is to build new toilet facilities for the town, following consultation with members of the public, businesses and market traders, to replace a block that was demolished some years ago. The new toilets will include babychanging facilities, will be stomafriendly and accessible for disabled users, and will be free to use. The council is currently in the process of obtaining planning permission, and plans to open the new facilities by the summer. They will be sited in a central location, which will be covered by CCTV and high-standard lighting. The mayor, Cllr Jane Pinter, said: “I am really pleased the town council is installing new toilets. This will make our town more accessible and convenient for all.”

Clerks & Councils Direct March 2018

NEWPORT Parish Council on the Isle of Wight is planning to demolish an “eyesore” toilet block in the town and has been working with surveyors to develop a scheme for new unisex and disabled toilets. The block currently contains five female, two male (plus urinal) and one disabled toilet. Once demolished, it will be replaced by three toilet modules supplied by Swedish company Danfo, with landscaping of the surrounding public space and artwork by young people and local artists.

Clerks & Councils Direct November 2017

PETITION SEEKS TO PROTECT LOOS

Over 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for public toilets in TYWYN to be kept open. The petition was handed to Gwynedd councillor Anne Lloyd Jones, following a campaign initiated by the South Meirionnydd Older People’s Forum.
Gwynedd Council has said that it “simply cannot afford” to keep all of its current toilets open, and facilities across the county are under threat. Dozens will close unless local communities can help to finance them.
Tywyn Town Council has made a commitment to keep toilets next to the cinema open, but is waiting for the county council to announce its plans before making a decision on a second facility on the seafront.
George Buckley of the Older People’s Forum said: “It’s vitally important that we maintain both sets of toilets. Without them, more vulnerable people will stay away from the area rather than be caught short. So many people have said that they’re quite willing to pay 20p for using the facilities.”  

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2017

GODALMING Town Council in Surrey expressed frustration after Waverley Borough Council announced the permanent closure of public toilets in Godalming and Farncombe from 19 June 2017 with just seven days’ notice. Cllr Stefan Reynolds said: “While we recognise that Waverley has severe budgetary pressures, it is very disappointing that it has decided to close the toilets without fully providing an alternative seven-day provision as it had promised.”

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2017

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NEWBURY Town Council in Berkshire has installed paddle gates at The Wharf public toilets, and there is now a 20p charge to use the facility. The money raised will go towards maintenance and cleaning to ensure that the toilets are kept to acceptable standards.

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2017

 

 

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TIMELY AD SEES LOO ON THE MOVE

WOKINGHAM Town Council in Berkshire contacted Clerks & Councils Direct last summer with a dilemma: it had for sale a modern public convenience that had to be removed quickly due to land development plans. The solution was to place an advertisement in the September 2016 issue. Mike Dunstan, the council’s planning and transportation officer, later reported: “I am delighted to inform you that we received serious enquiries from six parish councils around the country in response to our ad, and the outcome was that our toilet was taken away on 6 December to its new home in the parish of Hamsey, East Sussex.”
The photograph shows the loo leaving Wokingham en route to its new home.

Clerks & Councils Direct March 2017

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GOING UP IN THE WORLD

FAVERSHAM Town Council in Kent has installed an accessible lift in its Guildhall to improve access to council meetings and other events held in the building. The project also included upgrades to toilet facilities to improve access and reconfiguration of the kitchen area. The project was part-funded with a grant of nearly £17,500 from Viridor Credits through the Landfill Communities Fund.

The Guildhall, which stands in the town’s Market Place, is a Grade II listed building that was once a market hall. The upper part was rebuilt in 1814, after celebrations of one of Wellington’s victories set the hall on fire.

The town’s mayor, Cllr Shiel Campbell, is pictured trying out the new lift.
Photo: Ian Read, Faversham Times

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2017

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NEW PARISH OFFICE OPENS TO PUBLIC

THE Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field, officially opened the WILLINGDON AND JEVINGTON Parish Council Office on 7 October with a speech and the cutting of a ribbon. He was thanked by the council’s chairman, Cllr John Pritchett BEM, who said that the project demonstrated partnership working at its very best between district, county and parish councils.

The new building in Jubilee Gardens is the parish’s first dedicated council office, and is part of a project that has also seen two public conveniences retained.

The opening ceremony was attended by local dignitaries, parish councillors, representatives of the architect and contractor, invited guests and local residents. Caroline Ansell MP said: “[This excellent project] reflects partnership working and smart use of authority assets. This contemporary new office sets the work of the council at the heart of the community and will provide an excellent working and meeting space.”

A resident commented: “So many public conveniences are being shut all over the country and we are very grateful we still have ours open.”

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2017

 

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NOT WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

RESIDENTS of FROME in Somerset voted overwhelmingly in October in favour of adopting the town council’s Neighbourhood Plan. Of those who voted, 86 per cent were in favour. It will now form part of the Mendip District Local Development Plan.

Cllr Pippa Goldfinger, chair of Frome Town Council’s planning advisory group, said: “This is a major step forward in Frome’s campaign to have more say in what is built in the town. The Neighbourhood Plan has engaged hundreds of people in the making. That hard work has now paid off and we have our own planning document that must be considered when Mendip decides whether to approve planning applications.”

There was a postscript to the story when pranksters used the “thumbs up” image issued by the council to create posters that appeared in men’s toilets. These suggested that councillors had received training to carry out “free digito-rectal examinations” and urged people to call the council to make an appointment. Those behind the stunt claimed they were raising awareness of prostate cancer.

Town clerk Paul Wynne said: “The poster has not come from the council. I think it's just someone having a bit of fun. But the image is in the public domain – we can’t be precious about it.”

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2017

 LAUNCH FOR COMMUNITY TOILET SCHEME

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FARNHAM Town Council in Surrey has launched a new community toilet scheme in cooperation with local businesses. The initiative was launched at The Queen’s Head pub, whose landlady, Jessica Masterson-Smith, came up with the idea, having seen it in action in Australia.

She explained: “Pubs, restaurants and shops provide clean, safe and accessible toilet facilities during their opening hours without customers having to make a purchase to use them. Shoppers and residents really like it and it’s a straightforward, common-sense way for businesses to offer something to the town at very little cost.”

Similar schemes already operate in other areas of the UK, providing facilities without the need for large investment from public funds or the need to charge users. Many premises provide baby changing facilities and are accessible to people with disabilities.

The Farnham scheme will initially be piloted for a year. Participating businesses will display a specially designed logo in their windows, and a number have already signed up. The town council will pay each £200 per year towards the additional costs.

Clerks & Councils Direct November 2016


BUDGET CUTS PROVE MOST INCONVENIENT

AN investigation by the BBC has confirmed that public toilets are closing at an alarming rate as councils seek to implement cuts to their budgets. A freedom of information request revealed that 1,782 council-run public toilets have closed across the country since 2006. Ten areas, including Newcastle, Merthyr Tydfil and Wandsworth in London, now have no public toilets at all on their high streets or in public spaces.

The research showed that four out of five councils have cut spending on toilets since 2011, and 22 councils now have only one public toilet left. A spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA) said that budget cuts meant that councils had less to spend, but were doing everything they could to keep public toilets open, including running community schemes with pubs, restaurants and shops to make their toilets available to the public.

Bucking the trend is WARMINSTER Town Council in Wiltshire, which has taken over two sets of public conveniences in the town centre after the county council decided to close them in April. Councillors voted unanimously to accept a quotation from contractor The Landscape Group of an annual cost of £18,858 to clean and secure the facilities at the town park and central car park; rates and utilities will cost extra.

The town council managed to quickly complete the paperwork needed for the transfer of ownership from Wiltshire Council and reopened the toilets on 1 June, a month earlier than anticipated. The facilities will be open from 7am until 7pm daily. The deputy mayor, Cllr Pip Ridout, said: “Members of the public have made their feelings known very strongly about this issue, so we’re thrilled that we can give them such good news.”

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2016

PARISH TRUSTEES TAKING CONTROL

SoulburyToilet_May16.jpg SOULBURY Parish Council in North Bucks has recently become the sole corporate trustee of its Millennium Green, after a number of the original trustees resigned and it was asked to step in. A management committee was set up and took over the day-to-day running of the green, and work has progressed since then.

 

One major project recently completed is the installation of a public eco-toilet, which is based on a waterless system and is accessible to disabled users. Cllr Vic Wright, parish council chairman, and Alan Stevens, chairman of the management committee, are shown inspecting the facility. Plans are now in hand for a new storage facility for machinery, together with a visitor centre.

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2016

 

BELLINGHAM Parish Council in North Tyne is investigating ways to keep its public toilets open, after they were closed in December. The council has considered paying for the upkeep of the facilities itself, but decided that the annual cost of £6,000 was too high. It is now discussing options with Northumberland County Council.

 

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2016

TREE ROOTS BLOCKING TOILETS

Our community centre’s toilets are blocked by tree roots from a neighbouring property. What is the position regarding responsibility: can we bill the tree owner for repairs to the toilets, which will be quite expensive?

Cllr Howard Wright, Chairman, PLEASLEY Parish Council, Derbyshire

Paul Clayden writes: It is generally the case that roots which damage a neighbouring property constitute a nuisance in law. There is useful information on the web – see www.inbrief.co.uk, for instance.

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2016

 

AMBLE Town Council Northumberland has reduced the opening hours of public toilets at its Tourist Information Centre to 8am to 5pm on weekdays, due to a combination of vandalism and cutbacks. The toilets were vandalised at the end of November, with approximately £1,500 of damage caused to the men’s and again in December.

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2016

COMMUNITY TAKES OWNERSHIP

CYNGOR Cymuned Llanengan has invested £80,000 to refurbish public toilets at Lôn Traeth, Abersoch, after purchasing the busy beachside facilities from Gwynedd Council, which had planned to close them, in 2011. The building has been fi nished to a very high standard, and also has an external shower.

This was the community council’s biggest ever expenditure, and funds from the precept and the Public Works Loan Board were supplemented by a £25,000 grant from the Welsh Government’s Tourism Investment Support Scheme (TISS).

The building was opened by Yvonne Lloyd-Jones, who recently retired after 25 years’ service as a councillor. She said: “I am delighted, and proud, to see the fruition of this project. This is a real investment in tourism in Abersoch, a faith in the future of which we can all be justifi ably proud.”

The council has also purchased 15 new dog waste bins to add to those provided by the county council, to cater for the increased numbers of visitors since the opening of the Welsh Coastal Path. The bins are differentiated by a Llanengan council logo designed by Mrs. Lloyd-Jones.

Cllr John Wynn Jones, Cyngor Gwynedd Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “We are very proud to have worked with Cyngor Cymuned Llanengan on this innovative scheme, where it has taken ownership of the matter in aid of the local environment.”

LlanenganToiletsMar15.jpg   Clerks & Councils Direct March 2015


COUNCILLORS in FALMOUTH have been told that some members of the public are unhappy with new unisex toilets at Gyllyngvase beach. Cllr Candy Atherton said that the facilities were “not quite as private as they might be”. It was decided to revisit the issue after the summer.

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2014

SPRUCING UP FOR SUMMER

SHROPSHIRE’S first publicly funded disabled Changing Places facility opened in April in Shrewsbury town centre. The facility at Butcher Row, an overhaul of an existing public toilet block, was designed by a local architecture fi rm. It contains male, female and disabled facilities and a baby changing area, all at ground level. Around £50,000 was spent on the facility, which caters for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.

Town clerk Helen Ball said: “I am really pleased we have been able to reopen Butcher Row. The site looks fantastic and the Changing Places facility will ensure that the toilets are fully accessible for all.”

 Clerks & Councils Direct July 2014

COMMITTED VOLUNTEERS CAN SECURE COMMUNITY ASSETS

THE small village of Llandrillo in Denbighshire (population 500) has as its focal point an open grassed area known as Y Wern. The site has had its own public conveniences since the 1960s, which were maintained through successive local government reorganisations, until in 1998 the county council cut budgets and closed toilets in most small villages.

In an effort to keep the toilets open, Llandrillo Community Council attempted to operate the facility independently, but the burden of the National Non- Domestic Rate (NNDR) bill, almost £500 a year, made the effort unsustainable. The toilets were closed, which meant that visitors used other corners of Y We



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