‘We’re not looking to shut loos’, King’s Lynn review member insists

King's Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council Toilet facility at the Tuesday Market Place King's Lynn ANL-160824-162315009
King's Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council Toilet facility at the Tuesday Market Place King's Lynn ANL-160824-162315009

A working group set up to review West Norfolk’s public toilet provision is not trying to close facilities down, according to one of its members.

The claim was made after one councillor this week said she was “horrified” by the possibility that some blocks could be shut in order to cut costs.

It emerged in August that councillors were being asked to consider whether to close six of the blocks maintained by West Norfolk Council, or hand them over to other organisations, such as parish councils.

In a separate report, the Lynn area consultative committee has been asked for its views on the blocks in the Walks and Gaywood.

A decision on whether the maintenance of those facilities should be funded under special expenses, the system through which services provided by parish councils elsewhere in the borough are paid for, was deferred at a meeting on Wednesday.

But committee member Margaret Wilkinson hit out at the idea.

She said: “We’re going backwards in generations to say we’re not going to provide even better facilities for people.

“Why are we not keeping facilities when visitors are increasing? I’m horrified.”

Labour group leader John Collop added: “If you start closing the public toilets in the Walks, you’re doing something that shouldn’t happen.

“We’re always talking about what Lynn offers. If you go into the Walks and there’s no toilets that’s going to impact on everything we offer.

However, council leader Brian Long insisted it was too early to say what the final outcome of the review would be.

He said the study was intended to separate the facilities associated with transport centres, including the bus station and car parks, from sites which primarily serve local communities and create what he called a “parity” between Lynn and parished areas.

He added: “What I wouldn’t want to do is sit here and prejudge what the working group is already looking at.

“They will come forward with recommendations but it’s certain that public toilets in some parish areas are being paid for by parishes.”

And committee vice-chairman Andy Tyler, who is on the working group, said: The atmosphere of the working group that is looking into it is trying to improve conditions and make things better. It’s not all a case of what can we close, what can we stop.”

The working group, which was set up last month to look at the facilities in Ferry Street, Lynn, Lynn Road, Gaywood, the Howdale in Downham, Heacham, Holme and Old Hunstanton, is next scheduled to meet in November.

Handing over the sites to other bodies, such as parish councils, or introducing usage charges are among the options likely to be considered.

But Thomas Smith said the group should also consider whether more formal arrangements could be made with businesses who have toilets which are open for longer than the council’s own facilities during the day.

A special meeting will also be arranged for November or December to discuss special expenses.

Meanwhile, a scheduled discussion on bus services around Lynn did not take place after representatives of Stagecoach, the area’s main operator, did not attend.

Officials of Lynx and First had attended the committee’s previous meeting in July. The issue has been rescheduled for the new year.