The public are being urged to make their views known on the possible closure of some Derbyshire Dales loos as talks continue with parish and town councils that could take them over.
Derbyshire Dales councillors considered at a special meeting on Thursday (8 March) a radical overhaul of public loos across the district in a bid to cut costs. You can view the video of the meeting on our YouTube channel.
The District Council currently provides a total of 26 public conveniences on a discretionary basis at a cost of £467,000 per year - and it has been reviewing public conveniences as one of its high priority measures in bridging a funding gap currently standing at £1-million over the next three years.
At Thursday’s meeting councillors agreed to introduce a 20p charge for the use of 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.
As Community Asset negotiations continue with potential willing partners, a three week consultation will start on a list of at-risk public toilets, designed to measure the potential impact of any closures. Take part in the online survey here - it closes on Tuesday 3 April.
Following the consultation, Derbyshire Dales councillors will meet again to make a final decision on the future of facilities in Ashbourne's Recreation Ground, Bakewell's Riverside, Birchover, Cromford Market Place, Darley Dale, Artist's Corner Matlock Dale, Matlock Bath Pavilion, Matlock Hall Leys Park Play Area, Monsal Head, Monyash and Thorpe.
As part of the review, the District Council has been urging 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. The loos at Middleton by Youlgrave are to be retained as a 26 week per year facility during April to October each year without charge.
To help plug the gap of any 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 approved at Thursday’s meeting was a formal consultation to be 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.
A report to the meeting stressed that although the District Council remains committed to delivering the frontline services local people and visitors have come to expect - such as street cleaning, environmental health and refuse collection - the drive to make efficiencies means it has to look at the services the authority is not required to provide, including public conveniences.
Local people and visitors to the Derbyshire Dales have already been asked for their views in a consultation last autumn. The new consultation will ask local people and visitors to specify which loos on the potential closure list they use most, the potential impact of any closures and how that impact might be mitigated.