Wisbech councillor launches petition against ‘short-sighted’ plan to close three of town’s public toilets

PLANS to close all but one of Wisbech’s four public toilets have been condemned as “short-sighted” by a county councillor.

Councillor Samantha Hoy has attacked Fenland District Council’s proposal to leave the Capital of the Fens with just one public convenience, in Church Terrace.

The youngest county councillor in Cambridgeshire voiced particular concern over the toilets in Wisbech Park – claiming that the town’s festival could be “unviable” if they were to close.

Petitions set up yesterday to protest against the decision to close the park’s toilets have already attracted more than 50 signatures.

Cllr Hoy, who is also deputy leader of Wisbech Town Council, has posted her concerns on community website ShapeYourPlace.

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She said: “I believe we need the ones in the park as they are used by families and others on a daily basis. It is short-sighted to close toilets in a park that holds a festival every year and already has problems with people urinating in public.”

One resident who signed the petition, Simon Massen, said: “To close the toilets is a major mistake in our historic park.

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“For a number of years the park has seen major investment in promoting events encouraging more people and it is ridiculous to close them as people will either go home (and not come back) to the toilet or ‘do their business’ in the park. You seriously need to reconsider this.”

Cllr Hoy said consultation with town councils had been poor and residents had voiced their anger at this week’s Waterlees and Clarkson Neighbourhood Forum.

“Every other town in Fenland is losing 50 per cent of their toilets but we would lose 75 per cent,” she said.

“The thing is; people aren’t unreasonable about it. They understand it’s expensive and that we can’t maintain four toilets, but they are saying ‘please at least work with us’.

“It is a shame that it seems to have been done so secretly. I would have liked to have gone and spoken about it in a public speaking slot but by the time it got to full council it was like a done deal. I thought, what’s the point?”

Fenland District Council’s consultation process was criticised by Councillor Kay Mayor, the Mayor of Whittlesey, at a Cabinet meeting last month.

Cllr Mayor said Whittlesey Town Council had only received the consultation documents when it was “far too late to give any response”.

The council’s plan will see six toilets close across Fenland with the remaining four given a �500,000 revamp to transform them into ‘pay and go’ conveniences.

Toilets in Station Road, Whittlesey, Furrowfields, Chatteris, Broad Street, March and Church Terrace, Wisbech, are the only public loos earmarked to remain open.

Cllr Hoy, together with Fenland District Councillor Carol Cox, intends to present the council with their petition later this month.

A council spokesman said: “In our consultations with Wisbech Town Council we have asked them if they want to take over any of the present facilities. They have not ruled that out but have indicated they want to talk more about how any takeover might be achieved.

“The fact is that unfortunately many of the current facilities, including the ones in Wisbech Park, are not up to modern standards; they are also prone to petty vandalism and antisocial behaviour. We cannot afford to modernise them all.

“Across the country local authorities are making difficult decisions to remove some or all facilities because public toilets are expensive to run and maintain.

“We are committed to investing up to �500,000 to provide four modern, family-friendly facilities, one in each of our towns, that will be easier and more efficient to run and maintain in the future.”

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