The plug has been pulled on Atherstone’s town centre toilets after the revelation it was costing £15 every time someone spent a penny.
From April, shoppers and visitors to the north Warwickshire town will instead be urged to use the facilities within cafes, bars, supermarkets and the leisure centre when answering the call of nature.
Members of this Monday's resources board meeting of North Warwickshire Borough Council agreed to shut the Station Street toilets having previously closed ones in Polesworth, Water Orton and Coleshill. The Atherstone toilet block, which was built in the 1960s, is the last remaining council-owned loo and needs an urgent revamp.
A report from Richard Dobbs, the council’s corporate director for streetscape, explained: “Under current building regulations, any significant refurbishment of a facility of this type would need to meet the Changing Places standard. The capital cost to upgrade the current facility to the new standard is estimated to be well in excess of £100,000.
“The council needs to make significant savings to its base budget and the provision of public conveniences is a relatively high spending area considering the level of service offered and utilised. It should also be remembered that there are alternatives to the public conveniences in Station Street less than five minutes’ walk away, including the council house during the week, but also the leisure centre and Co-op supermarket, as well as numerous cafes and bars.”
Mr Dobbs recommended the toilets be closed from the start of April which would save the council more than £32,000 each year.
At this week’s meeting, Cllr Neil Dirveiks (Lab, Atherstone Central) said: “I accept that they are very expensive and that we can’t afford them and that everywhere else in the borough has already lost theirs - so it is difficult to argue against losing them.
“But I think what we do need to do is to make sure that systems and signage is put in so that people know where to find available toilets and that we need to make every effort to make sure that the places we are sending people are actually happy for people to be sent to them.”
And Cllr Denise Clews (Con, Atherstone South and Mancetter) added: “As a local councillor it is disappointing but when you read that it costs £15 per visit, you have to realise that every single person on North Warwickshire pays a precept that pays for these toilets to be looked after.”
Councillors approved the recommendation and Mr Dobbs agreed that local businesses would be consulted.
He added: “We are acutely aware of signage and making sure people are aware of what the alternatives are. We will try and get a directory together of alternative locations that we can promote.”