Public consultation on toilet block repairs

Matlock bath toilets with portaloos
Matlock bath toilets with portaloos
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Council tax payers may be called upon to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair or replace a public toilet block in a Derbyshire Dales village.

The loos, housed in an historic stone building in Matlock Bath’s Memorial Gardens, were closed by the district council earlier this year after a condition survey discovered significant defects.

Temporary loos were installed by the council at the same site in March to help the village through its busy tourist season - and now local people and visitors are to be consulted on permanent options.

A district council spokesperson said: “Our council tax payers hardly need reminding that public finances are tight right now and this is yet another unexpected project where we have to work hard to get the best possible value for money.

“As a district council, we are under no obligation whatsoever to provide public conveniences, but it’s something we want to do to continue to boost the economy of the Dales.

The temporary toilets have been the source of much anger in the village, with community group Friends of Matlock Bath delivering a 2,000-signature petition on July 16, which stated that the temporary facilities did not adequately replace the lost block.

The cost of repairing the current building - including cracks and bulges in the masonry - has been estimated at more than £175,000.

Alternatives include demolishing the building and providing alternative facilities on the site, at former station buildings nearby, or adopting a community toilets scheme with local traders.

All the options apart from a community toilets scheme would cost well in excess of £150,000 - and this figure more than doubles if alternative facilities are provided elsewhere and the shelter is retained.

The cheapest option is a community toilets scheme similar to that which operates in Amber Valley, whereby local businesses are paid a grant in return for allowing members of the public to use their toilets during opening hours.

The online consultation can be accessed at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/MBloosconsultation and will run until August 25.

A paper version is available from the Mining Museum in Matlock Bath and from Matlock Town Hall.