Lostwithiel set to lose public toilets
LOSTWITHIEL will lose its public toilets next month when they are closed by Cornwall Council.
The local authority has failed to agree terms with the town council, which had previously agreed to take over the facility in Church Lane. They will close at the end of December.
Lostwithiel councillors have blamed County Hall for the situation, claiming the council failed to carry out the necessary repairs to the toilets required by the town council before it took over responsibility for them.
Cornwall Council says the fault lies with the town council for not committing to take over the management of the toilets.
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Town councillors are preparing themselves for a deluge of criticism from residents after insisting a near 100 per cent rise in the precept over the past two years was due in part to cover the costs of maintaining the toilets once it had taken ownership.
Lostwithiel Town Council's precept – the amount it charges residents for its services – went up from £56,579 in 2011-12 to £119,925 for 2013-14.
The council has estimated it would have cost it around £15,000 a year to maintain the public toilets.
Councillor Chris Jewels said the facilities at the moment were in a poor state of repair, and attacked the county authority for not keeping its side of the bargain.
"Despite all the promises over the past two years, it would appear Cornwall Council has reneged on everything it said it was going to do," he said. "Cornwall Council is now going to leave 3,500 people without a public convenience, which is an absolute disgrace – they have handled the situation appallingly."
Mr Jewels said the toilets were smelly, the drainage system should be condemned and the local authority had not made them fit for purpose, as it had promised to do.
"I feel Cornwall Council has just fobbed us off for two years and had no intention of doing anything (to the toilets)," he told a meeting of fellow councillors.
Local authorities do not have a statutory duty to provide public conveniences and Cornwall Council has been attempting to save money by offering them to town and parish councils to maintain at a sale price of just £1.
A Cornwall Council spokesperson said: "The offer to refurbish the facilities at Church Lane was dependent on Lostwithiel Town Council taking over responsibility for the toilets and as the town council has now decided that it does not wish to do this, we are left with little option but to close them.
"As the facilities are set to close in December, refurbishing them at this stage would not be the best use of taxpayers' money. However, we would be very happy to have further discussions with Lostwithiel Town Council to find a way forward," she said.
Adrian Barrett, chairman of the town's Business Group, said the closure was bad news for trade and for the town.
"It's vitally important Lostwithiel has public toilets," he said. "I get five or six people a day asking where the conveniences are.
"We get a lot of visitors, and hold events like Lost Fest and Carnival Week when public toilets are vital. The only facility in the centre of the town will be in the Co-op, and that's really for customers."