Toilets around the South Hams will be kept open thanks to a decision made by the District Council’s Executive this week.
A pay on entry system will now be installed around the District at many toilets; this will go towards their running costs and protect them from closure.
During their recent budget setting process, South Hams District Council agreed to look in detail at what it does with the non-statutory services. Public toilets are one of the services that the Council provides, but are not required to provide. Despite this the Council dearly wants to provide public toilets for the benefit of their residents, tourists and local businesses. This proposal will enable them to do so.
South Hams District Council currently spends close to £1m per annum providing and maintaining public toilets. With a predicted budget gap of £0.3 million, a pay on entry scheme is a way of helping to close the gap but continuing to provide a valuable service.
Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Executive Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, said: “There’s no doubt that continuing to provide public toilets is important for residents, visitors and businesses in the South Hams. As a result the council was determined to find a way to protect them, despite the enormous pressures on our budget. Many local authorities throughout the UK have had to close their public toilets and rely instead on businesses to provide them – Manchester City Council, one of the largest councils in England, only have one council run public toilet!”
“As the Executive member with the responsibility for public toilets, I take my role very seriously and I have said before that the last thing that I want to do is to be responsible for closing toilets. I visit many of the toilets around the District while I am out and about, when I see something that is not satisfactory I speak to the team to make sure any issues are resolved to the best of our physical and financial ability. Securing additional funding for our toilets will not only help us keep them open but also in good working order.”
The proposed fee is 20p. The busiest toilets have been chosen to have the pay on entry system installed as these have high running costs:
- Creek, Salcombe
- North Sands, Salcombe
- South Sands, Salcombe
- Coronation Road, Totnes
- Steamer Quay, Totnes
- Civic Hall, Totnes
- Fore Street, Kingsbridge
- Slapton Line
- Glanvilles Mill, Ivybridge
- Mill Bay
- Ferry Steps
Councillors also agreed to look again at the Hope Cove toilets which receives a similarly high number of visitors in peak season.
The pay on entry system is expected to generate £16,000 in 2018/19 and £36,000 by 2019/20, income which will be used to continue to run the toilets.
Mill Bay toilets are a recent addition to the list, while Slapton Memorial toilets have been removed. The recent storm damage at these toilets has left the septic tank very close to the beach and at risk of failing in another storm. This could cause a serious pollution incident. Relocating the tank is unlikely to solve the problem, as well as being very expensive and so these toilets, sadly, will have to close.
Cllr Gilbert continued “The decision to close the toilets at Slapton Memorial has not been taken lightly. Storm Emma had a huge impact on the area and the beach has receded a long way inland very quickly. The old septic tank is now dangerously close to the beach. Relocating it would only be a very expensive temporary measure and so reluctantly, we will have to close the toilets to prevent any risk of pollution on the shore.”