Spending the pennies: council to splash out £200,000 on historic Matlock Bath toilet block repair

The public toilets in the Memorial Gardens in Matlock Bath.
The public toilets in the Memorial Gardens in Matlock Bath.

Councillors have backed public calls to repair a crumbling toilet block in Matlock Bath, at a potential cost of more than £200,000.

The historic stone building in the village’s Memorial Gardens was shut by Derbyshire Dales District Council earlier this year after a survey discovered significant defects.

Temporary loos were installed at the same site to help Matlock Bath through its busy tourist season - and in July local people and visitors were consulted on permanent options.

Alternatives to repairing the popular loos included demolishing the toilets and providing alternative modern facilities on the site, at former station buildings nearby, or adopting a community toilets scheme with local traders.

But last week members of the council’s Governance & Resources Committee agreed to put right structural issues to external walls and the roof - including cracks and bulges in the masonry. The toilet block will also get an internal upgrade – and total costs could be more than £200,000.

Council leader Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said: “This is an attractive historic building in an important tourist resort for the Derbyshire Dales.

“Even though public finances are tighter than ever, in this instance I think we need to bite the bullet and get the job done properly for the benefit of the tens of thousands of visitors who pour into the village every year, boosting our local economy.”

The meeting heard that the rebuild was complicated by the siting of the building on the banks of the River Derwent and the necessary involvement of the Environment Agency.

Although more than half of the 140 people who responded to the summer consultation exercise wanted the building repaired, it wasn’t a unanimous verdict in the council chamber.

Some councillors felt Matlock Bath, following last year’s £210,000 upgrade to its Jubilee Bridge, was getting more than its fair share of public money.