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Final decision expected on future of Dales loos

There's a stark message to councillors in a report recommending closure of as many as 11 public toilets in the Derbyshire Dales. The 30 April meeting will be broadcast live on our YouTube channel.

The report [PDF 358KB] to a special meeting of Derbyshire Dales District Council warns the current situation is “unsustainable” and that if the authority continues to provide the current level of loos it will need to identify savings elsewhere within its overall budget.

Such a move, the report states, could have a serious impact on frontline and statutory services.

  • Members of the public wishing to ask questions, express views or present petitions must do so by midday on Friday 27 April by calling 01629 761133 or emailing committee@derbyshiredales.gov.uk
  • The meeting can be viewed live on our YouTube channel from 6pm on Monday 30 April

The District Council isn’t obliged to provide public toilets but currently manages and maintains a total of 26 facilities across the Derbyshire Dales at a cost of £467,000 per year.

Successive central government grant cuts, including a further £637,000 reduction in the current year, have forced the council to review all the services it provides.

Councillors met last month to consider a radical overhaul of public loos, which are seen as a high priority in bridging a funding gap currently standing at £1-million over the next three years.

The follow-up meeting on 30 April will be told that rationalising stock will mean that better, higher quality facilities will be provided in areas of most need, but that tough decisions are required on ageing toilets that have reached the end of their intended life.

Already agreed is that a 20p charge be introduced for the use of high quality loos in six busy locations - Matlock's Hall Leys Park, Bakewell's Granby Road and the Recreation Ground, Ashbourne's Shawcroft, Matlock Bath Memorial Gardens and Matlock Bus Station.

It is also now recommended that the commercial potential of the sites at Bakewell Recreation Ground and Matlock Bus Station be referred to the District Council’s new Commercial Board for assessment, together with two sites earmarked for closure - Artist’s Corner in Matlock Dale and the play area toilets site in Matlock’s Hall Leys Park.

At what is expected to be the final meeting on the toilets review, councillors will also consider an update on the possible transfer of at-risk loos to other organisations and the results of a three-week public consultation, which attracted 670 responses.

Recommended for closure are loos at Ashbourne's Recreation Ground, Bakewell's Riverside, Birchover, Darley Dale, Artist's Corner Matlock Dale, Matlock Bath Pavilion, Matlock Hall Leys Park Play Area, Monsal Head, Monyash, Thorpe and Cromford Market Place – though negotiations are now taking place about the possible transfer of the Cromford facility to the local Community Centre Association.

In the case of the dilapidated facilities at Matlock Bath Pavilion and the Matlock Hall Leys Park play area, the proposal is to demolish the buildings, though a portaloo would be installed at the play area while discussions continue with interested parties about the future use of the site there. Portaloos would also be installed at the Pavilion site for the District Council’s annual Matlock Bath Illuminations.

The meeting will hear that private interest has also been shown in the future potential of the sites recommended for closure at Birchover, Monsal Head and Thorpe. In the case of Monsal Head there is a prospect of securing a public convenience on site, run by a private company.

As part of the review, the District Council urged local town and parish councils to take over the responsibility for loos in their areas - and some have taken up the offer. Community Asset Transfers have been agreed for facilities at Ashford in the Water and Wirksworth, with a one-year lease proposed to transfer the facilities at Eyam to the parish council in return for a 50% contribution towards running costs, subject to review in 2019.

Negotiations are also underway about the possible transfer to parish councils of the public toilets in Bradwell and Bonsall.

To help plug the gap of any permanent closures, a Community Toilet Scheme will be adopted by the District Council, where local businesses will be asked to allow members of the public to use their own loos for free in exchange for a small revenue grant. The council will also be exploring new sponsorship and advertising options at retained public conveniences.

Among other recommendations already approved is that a formal consultation is undertaken to consider the amendment of the Off Street Parking Order to introduce a 20p additional levy for car parking and £1 for coach parking to help towards the cost of retaining public loos located in rural car parks at Baslow, Over Haddon and Hartington - and that all cash received through the levy be directed to repairs and improvements at these specific locations.

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