Letter: Public loos 'essential for tourism'

John Freeman is angry at the closure of village toilets

John Freeman is angry at the closure of village toilets

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It was with dismay that we learned that yet more public toilets are now at risk of closure.

The increasing popularity of Sandsend with tourists highlights the need for these two toilets to remain open at Sandsend, both of which are used by over 40,000 people a year.

Although not a statutory duty of Scarborough Borough Council to maintain these essential front line services, of which we are constantly reminded, nevertheless it is surely a civic duty to recognise the value that existing public toilets provide for our visitors and residents, which our forebears easily recognised as a moral duty to provide and maintain.

The maintenance of these toilets could be improved, it is true.

Visitors complain about the state that unattended toilets are left in but that is preferable to the prospect of no toilets at all.

Whitby and district has been voted one of the top five destinations in the UK so we are led to wonder why the residents and visitors have to beg for the retention of facilities vital to the well-being of all.

Although the cost of maintaining them needs to be factored in, it is difficult to understand how all parish councils can take on the cost of maintenance and summon up the funds required unless they have access to a revenue stream.

Actually, the revenue from all the recently installed car park machines in Sandsend would more than cover the cost of maintaining the toilets. Revenue siphoned from all the second homes in the area could also be used towards the provision of improved toilet facilities.

We have now also been informed that the public toilets at Grosmont are also in danger of closing.

Already along the Esk Valley, toilets have been similarly targeted, and were informed that unless each parish council could take over the maintenance, the toilets would be closed.

Whitby Town Council is still awaiting sight of a contract for maintaining the toilets at Ruswarp after several years of requests.

Sleights and Lealholm have been taken over by parish councils desperate to retain a semblance of hygiene in their village environs, at the cost of increased precepts.

However, not all can raise their precept to cover the costs. One exception is Kildale, which thankfully is under the auspices of the North York Moors National Park Authority, otherwise these would no doubt have had to close.

Despite being on the popular Coast to Coast route, the toilets at Glaisdale have sadly been closed as the parish council could not increase their precept.

The owners of the adjacent property have suffered from having to witness several unhygienic episodes, which they are powerless to prevent.

When there are no toilets available for people to relieve themselves, they will and do resort to desperate measures.

Who can blame them?

Are we to understand that the borough council do not feel that public toilets are an essential facility?

We have been told that the borough council considers that people can use toilets in catering outlets, but apart from the unfairness of this, the practicalities are that pubs and cafes are not always open during the day and in winter even less so.

We have year round tourism now and the basic facilities should reflect this.

Whitby itself has also witnessed a depressing reduction in the quantity and quality of the public toilet provision.

At 40p for one visit to the attended toilets, it is 10p more than the cost of using the toilets at Kings Cross station, yet the staff continue to do a terrific job and should be congratulated.

The other toilets around the town are at least better than none, but some are truly no advertisement for the east coast. There are now no toilets available for marina users on the east side or for taxi drivers who used to use them regularly, to name just two regular users.

With over three million visitors a year, our visitors to Whitby and district deserve more than the toilets provided, not less.

John Freeman,
Chairman,
Whitby and District
Tourism Association

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