Vandal hit toilets at Horsefair, Wisbech, to re-open after campaign that even included letter to Government health minister

Barrier toilets being installed at Horsefair shopping centre, Wisbech

Barrier toilets being installed at Horsefair shopping centre, Wisbech - Credit: Archant

Horsefair shopping centre toilets in Wisbech – closed because of vandalism and anti social behaviour- are to re-open in November.

New River Retail who owns the shopping complex announced the decision to refurbish and re-open the toilets today.

County councillor Alan Lay, who at one time wrote to a Government minister demanding intervention to get the toilets re-opened, said he was delighted.

Cllr Lay said it had been a community effort to persuade the owners to get the toilets back up and running and both he, Fenland District Council and Wisbech Town Council had lobbied hard for it to happen.

“In August I even wrote to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asking the Government to get involved,” said Cllr Lay.

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“I told the minister that the company that owns Horsefair had shown complacency in respect to acknowledging that it must be imperative to have toilets there for passengers to use when they alight from their journey.

“I told Mr Hunt this could lead to lead to health problems involved by people holding on when the wish to ‘find relief. It has been noticed that many passengers with children or the elderly complain and some of the local shops do not take kindly to being used as a public toilet.”

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A New River Retail spokesman said work has begun on re-opening the toilet facilities “and re-activating this important public facility for its shoppers”.

The work is due to be completed in the next four to six weeks so that the toilets will be open by the start of November.

The spokesman said: “When the new toilets open they will be barrier operated and users will have to pay a nominal charge of 20p. The new barrier system will mean that pushchairs can no longer be taken into the toilets however, the disabled toilets will be unchanged and will remain free to use.”

Kevin Smith, manager of the centre, said: “I’m delighted to announce our plans to re-open the toilets. We’ve been working hard on a solution for a long time now and it’s great to have finally overcome all of the hurdles that we’ve faced.

“We were forced to close the toilets following a string of incidents and anti-social behaviour that unfortunately meant that our shoppers’ safety was put at risk. We hope that the new pay on entry system will resolve this issue and deter the antisocial behaviour. The new system has been installed with our shoppers’ best interests in mind”.

Earlier this month Wisbech Town Council leader David Oliver said he had expressed concerns to the Horsefair about the closed toilets.

In a letter to Cllr Lay he said he had met the Horsefair management in February and expressed the council’s concern – and at regular meetings backed up that concern.

“Although the town council has actively encouraged the Horsefair management to provide facilities, as a member of local government you will be aware that the provision of toilets is not a statutory requirement,” he told Cllr Lay.

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