Fate of loos may mean spending a penny for use in West Norfolk

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

The toilets at Ferry Street.

West Norfolk councillors voted to create an informal working group on Wednesday – a team who have a shared common interest and focus on one issue – to investigate further the options for public toilets in the area.

During the meeting, councillor Geoffrey Hipperson said that “nothing stresses people more than having to go to the toilet – we must not neglect public need and public demand”.

He added that he thought there should be a further study into the demand.

The general consensus from the majority of the panel was that they did not want to close any of the toilets unless necessary, and would consider making some toilets paid-for or handing them over to other authorities.

But Andy Tyler said: “I am not in favour of all loos being taken away from the responsibility of borough councils unless there is a big financial problem.”

Concerns were raised about vandalism to the public facilities and it was argued that if certain ones were to become paid for, with a type of barrier to the toilets (a turnstile or paddle gate), that this concern could become lessened.

Nevertheless Chris Bamfield, who is executive director, said that vandalism to these services was “sporadic”.

At the end of the meeting, Ray Harding said: “That was a really helpful debate, it’s not an easy area. Special expenses is worth exploring, and it’s worth looking at the toilets in section four of the report on a one-by-one basis.”

Section four of the Public Toilets Review document refers to six public toilets in the borough which have been highlighted as those which could potentially be changed in some way, and become closed, paid-for or handed over to third parties.

These are Gaywood, Holme, Old Hunstanton, Howdale (Downham Market), Ferry Street (Lynn) and Heacham village.

Mr Harding added: “We definitely do not want to close these facilities but if we were starting from scratch, I’m not sure they would be where they are now.”

Chairman of the council’s environment and community panel Colin Sampson said: “There isn’t a statutory requirement but we have a moral obligation to provide visitors and residents with these facilities.

“We have got the principle, we got have the loos, we’ve got to keep them. Charging for them does not seem to be the issue I thought it would be across the board.”

Councillors Anthony Bubb, Chris Crofts, Andy Tyler, Sandra Collop and Carol Bower will form the informal working group and there will be another meeting concerning this matter in November.

Mr Sampson said he was pleased that the panel had not become “bogged down” with the issue.