West Norfolk Council committee set to consider public toilet closure option

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
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Councillors in West Norfolk are being asked to consider the potential closure of some of the borough’s public toilets in a bid to reduce costs.

A new report, which is set to be debated next week, has identified six sites where further assessments could take place in a move towards a potential closure or handover of responsibility for them to other groups.

Members are also set to consider whether people should be charged for using the toilets, though officials warn that similar measures elsewhere appear to have generated less income than expected.

They say the current arrangements for the facilities at car parks and other amenity sites should be unchanged.

Their report said: “Many of the toilets operated by the council are well used, being close to car parks, public transport or visitor attractions.

“Many of them are also associated with activity generated income, including car parks and amenity areas.”

But they added: “There are a number of toilets which could be considered for further work either to close or hand over to third parties.”

Among those facilities is the block in Ferry Street, which the report said should be considered for closure, but retained for use during major events, such as Festival Too.

The report said: “The block is very well used for events, but has much lower levels of use than the other King’s Lynn town centre toilets on the average day.

“It is regularly subjected to anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Consider closure but retain for events.”

Others in the list include one off Lynn Road, Gaywood, which officers said was often the subject of anti-social behaviour and is near several shops with their own facilities, plus one on the Howdale in Downham, which was said to be “isolated” and “rarely used.”

The three others mentioned for possible closure or handover include a block near the bowls club in Heacham, one in Old Hunstanton that stands next to a car park and beach huts operated by a third party and one in Holme, which the report said is leased from the Le Strange Golf Club until 2021.

The borough council currently maintains 22 public toilet blocks across the area, which it says costs £374,000 a year.

There is no legal requirement for local authorities to provide toilets.

Officials say more than £50,000 a year could be saved if enough sites were taken out of the authority’s management.

But Labour group leader John Collop warned any proposals to close facilities would not be popular and said he would fight to save the Gaywood block, which is in his ward.

He said: “Things are getting to a point where we’re going to have no facilities at all. It’s the thin end of the wedge.”

The report will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s environment and community panel next Wednesday, August 31.