Council commits �500,000 to ‘pay and go’ but abandons plans for unisex toilets for Fenland towns

FENLAND Council is about to commit �500,000 to modernising four public loos in each market town and converting them to ‘pay and go’.

But the council has bowed to wide spread hostility from town councils and abandoned plans to make each the toilets unisex.

“As a result of feedback from the town council consultation process each facility will have dedicated male and female cubicles,” said Mark Matthews, head of environmental services. Only disabled toilets will be unisex.

He said reducing the number of loos to four will save the council �60,000 a year.

“Introducing a charge for the use of unstaffed facilities has been shown to reduce criminal and anti social behaviour, helping to maintain better and cleaner facilities,” he said.

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He added that once the scheme has been operating for a while the experience of other towns is that “in most situations potential users became aware of the need to carry a small amount of change for the use of the facilities.” He expects the council could receive �15,000 a year from fees.

Only toilets in Furrowfields, Chatteris; Broad Street, March; Station Road, Whittlesey; and Church Terrace, Wisbech, will stay open. The rest will close.

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In the case of toilets at Mount Pleasant, Wisbech, and Cemetery Road, Whittlesey, the loos will close immediately.

Other loos will close once the refurbished toilets are operational. Those to go in phase two will be Station Street, Chatteris; City Road, March; Eastgate Car Park, Whittlesey; and Wisbech Park.

Fenland’s Cabinet is set to approve the �464,271 cost of refurbishments from �500,000 set aside for the work: the remaining cash will be used to decommission those loos being closed.

Chatteris Town Council opposed unisex and also questioned why Station Street toilets had not been the preferred option.

March Town Council said some people would not be comfortable with unisex toilets and also noted that portable loos would now be needed for City Road during events and fairs.

Whittlesey Town Council was also concerned about extra loos being needed for special events. They also feared “increased public urination” could result once charging is introduced and criticised the district council for not consulting with them earlier.

Wisbech Town Council complained the review did not take into account the demography of the area. The town services a much larger area than most and Wisbech attracts 80 per cent of all Fenland tourists.

Cabinet will be asked to approve the expenditure on Thursday.

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