Council to debate plans for charging public toilet users

editorial image

Derbyshire Dales District Council is to debate plans drawn up by officers to introduce a charge for the use of selected public toilets.

Council officers are recommending the council undertake a public consultation on the idea, which will be considered by councillors on Thursday, September 7.

The scheme would initially apply to facilities at Baslow, Hall Leys Park, Memorial Gardens in Matlock Bath, Granby Road in Bakewell, and Shawcroft car park in Ashbourne.

The officers’ report to the council states: “Visitors come to enjoy the scenery and take part in outdoor pursuits and a stronger visitor economy would be important to the economic health of the district.

“However the costs to the public purse of providing the facilities and maintaining them to acceptable standards is high.”

In March, the council agreed to a review of public conveniences as one of its high priority measures to bridge a funding gap of £1.6million over the next four years.

This latest move follows the recent announcement of controversial proposals to introduce car parking charges.

The council currently provides public toilet facilities at 26 locations throughout the district at a cost of more than £470,000 every year.

The five sites were chosen based on their locations in town centres or travel routes.

In 2015-16, the cost to maintain facilities in Hall Leys Park exceeded £21,000, Baslow £9,423, Shawcroft car park £30,851, the Memorial Gardens £20,570, and Granby Road £40,028. All five sites have a significant backlog of repairs.

Initial figures compiled by the council, based on a footfall survey, suggest that a 20p charge at each site could generate more than £400,000, while a 50p charge could earn in excess of £1million.

A working group has already explored the possible closure of toilets, transferring responsibility to parish and town councils or seeking external sponsorship.

They have also invited interest in a community toilet scheme, where businesses would be paid up to £600 per year to make male, female and disabled toilets available in places where the council is currently providing them.

Officers are recommending that all such options are presented to the public as part of the consultation.

To read the working group’s full report, go to http://bit.ly/2x5UHbw.