Down the pan

PUBLISHED: 10:53 19 October 2006 | UPDATED: 14:50 12 May 2010

The toilets in question

The toilets in question

PUBLIC toilets at Royston bus station are to close despite the efforts of veteran campaigner Terry Hutt who delivered a 2,000-signature petition to members of North Herts District Council. At a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday evening, councillors came t

Veteran campaigner Terry Hutt called for the public toilets to remain - Pic: Daniel Wilson

PUBLIC toilets at Royston bus station are to close despite the efforts of veteran campaigner Terry Hutt who delivered a 2,000-signature petition to members of North Herts District Council.

At a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday evening, councillors came to the conclusion that there was not enough money in the budget to keep the toilets.

An angry Mr Hutt, 70, who attended the meeting, said residents were paying rising Council Tax, but getting less for their money.

He said: "Toilets are a necessity for health reasons so it's got to go through."

Fiona Hill

Joan Inwood, of Green Drift, Royston, said: "If this toilet closes the nearest one is at Market Hill and to get there you have to cross a main road.

"If you're an old, incontinent person you could wet yourself.

"I know we're living a bit longer than the Government expects, but lets have a bit of consideration."

When Mr Hutt presented the Cabinet with the petition, he said: "People can't believe you would even think about closing the toilets down.

"The toilets play an important part because the site is a coach station and a taxi rank.

"On Wednesdays pensioners come in from all over the district and the first place they go to is the toilets.

"It's probably the most important toilet in the town and at the end of the day we do not want to see our toilets close."

In response, Councillor Lynda Needham, portfolio holder for waste and environment, said: "This authority looks after 12 sets of public toilets.

"We could have closed all of them, but we took the decision to put £750,000 into renovating and replacing as many toilets as we could, but the tax payers money will not stretch to all the toilets.

"We have to close three toilets and the one at Royston bus station is one of them. If it was to stay we would have to find another £130,000 to bring it up to standard."

It was, however, highlighted that £155,000 will be spent on toilets at Market Hill and £15,000 on improving facilities at The Cross.

Chairman of the Royston Committee, Councillor Fiona Hill said: "I am extremely disappointed funds have not been found in the budget.

"The toilets are important for young people, the elderly and the disabled who would find walking to the toilets at Market Hill impossible.

"Public toilets at a bus station are surely vital for any town. It's not a luxury, it's a necessity."

But Cllr Needham added: "We agree residents need toilets, but we have to manage the budget as best we can. This has not been an easy decision, but some areas in the district are not getting any money at all."

After the meeting Mr Hutt said: "I feel gutted and kicked in the teeth, but I will carry on regardless

"I am now going to write a letter to the district council reminding it that it is not listening to more than 2,000 people."

At the meeting Mr Hutt was also accompanied by a film crew which is making a documentary for BBC1 about toilets.

He said: "I shall be highlighting a date when the documentary will be aired on television and it will put the council to shame.

"How can they be doing council tax payers a favour when they are taking a service away which they pay for?"

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hill said: "I am disappointed about the decision and we are now going to have to look at other ways forward.

"We should find funding for all the toilets in the town because they are all important facilities."

Councillor Tony Hunter said: "The council is spending £170,000 on the other toilets and I commend them for that, but the report which was carried out does not show the usage or the footfall.

"They say it would cost about £130,000 to bring the toilets up to standard, but you could build a house with that amount of money."

It is likely the toilets will be demolished in March next year.

Mr Hutt added: "We can't give up. We didn't during the war and we won't now."

At a meeting on Monday evening it was suggested in a letter from district council chief executive John Campbell that Royston Town Council could take over the running of the toilets.

But the town council would have to assume the costs.

Cllr Rod Kennedy said this would lead to Royston residents paying twice for a service.

He described the cost of refurbishing the toilets at Market Hill as "grossly excessive".

"It's a ridiculous amount of money and does not represent good value.

"The decision to close the toilets at the bus station are on financial grounds not on the needs of the people," he said.

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