Town and parish councils to take over toilets from Cornwall Council
AROUND 110 public toilets throughout Cornwall will be managed and maintained by town and parish councils in Cornwall from next month, according to Cornwall Council.
The move follows localism discussions which have taken place over the last year between Cornwall Council and town and parish councils.
As part of the transfer arrangements, the council claims to have invested around £850,000 in making capital improvements to facilities. This, the authority said, has brought about significant improvements including improved access for people with disabilities and energy and water saving measures which will help cut future running costs.
The council has also allocated revenue grants to town and parish councils of around £600,000 for the 2013/14 financial year to help smooth the transition. In many cases, the council has also agreed to requests from town and parish councils for the freehold of these assets.
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"I am pleased that Cornwall Council is working with so many partner parishes and towns to devolve the operation of these toilets," said councillor John Pollard, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for Localism, Sustainability and Devolution. "It has been a long and often difficult process and I fully acknowledge and understand the apprehension of some of those involved but at last we have achieved a major success.
"Running their local facilities presents towns and parishes with the opportunity to provide and retain what they see as vital services. The funding packages and improvement works have made the transfer more acceptable to the parishes and towns and I am delighted that so many have decided to move forward in this way."
Although a cut in funding of £170m by central Government in 2010 forced Cornwall Council to review the non statutory services it provides, such as public toilets, this exercise has shown how positive a truly community-based approach can be.
Cornwall Council will continue to operate 56 facilities throughout Cornwall in locations where exceptional circumstances have been identified, which, combined with those facilities being taken on by town and parish councils, will ensure we continues to maintain a high level of provision.
"We may have to introduce charging in some facilities in places where we have been as yet unable to reach agreement with the town or parish council," said councillor Bert Biscoe, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for Transportation, Highways and Environment (Delivery). "By working positively we will be able to keep to a relative minimum the number of toilets which will have to close. We remain available to discuss future handovers and are busy completing all those which have come forward. The ultimate results will be a significant improvement in the quality of public conveniences, retention of a good network of conveniences and a restoration of local control over local services."