Get in touch ...

Know of something happening in
us on

E-mail your contributions to:

We are on Facebook at

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Getting rid of public toilets 'not a done deal' council chief tells llanblogger

* The public conveniences in Market Street.

Denbighshire County Council ridding itself of all its public conveniences to save around £200,000 a year is not a “done deal” says its Cabinet chief.

Councllor Barry Mellor, Lead Cabinet Member, gave the assurance to llanblogger after its editor and founder, Phil Robinson, wrote earlier this week to all nine members of the cabinet expressing his hope that they would see the strength of arguments being forward against the controversial money-saving gesture.  

Officers’ say the council needs to make savings as it faces an “unprecedented” financial challenge and the proposal is part of a corporate process to pinpoint cuts in the 2024/25 budget.

The provision of public conveniences (PCs) is a non-statutory duty. Many local authorities ceased providing this service many years ago.

Denbighshire currently has 20 toilet sites across the county, including Llangollen, none of which break even financially, it says. 

The council aims to transfer as many of them as possible to other groups or organisations, such as city, town and community councils, so that they continue to operate but at no cost to DCC. 

At the recent meeting of the Communities Scrutiny Committee the proposal was strongly opposed by Llangollen county councillor Karen Edwards who branded it as an “illogical act of self-harm”.

* Lead Cabinet member Cllr Barry Mellor.

The committee called for further information from officers on its impact before it again considers the move in May.  

llanblogger sent its email to every member of the cabinet who will have the final say on the proposal.

In the email Phil Robinson said: “During a journalistic career spanning 55 years I have never before felt it necessary to contact local councillors directly about any issue. But I am writing to you personally as a member of the authority’s Cabinet because I feel so strongly about the current proposal under which Denbighshire County Council will divest itself of all its public conveniences to save approximately £200,000 a year.

“I have covered this issue comprehensively on llanblogger over the past few weeks and, each time, it has prompted many comments from my readers, all of which have been strongly critical of the move.     

“I am therefore contacting you in the hope that you will see the strength in the arguments put forward against the proposal and bear them in mind when making a final decision on it in the near future.

“While the financial justification for this move in helping to ease pressure on the authority’s budget is clear enough I wonder if you, as Cabinet members, have given full consideration to its social cost.

“The feedback I have received from my readers demonstrates deep concerns about the human and economic impact the proposal is bound to have upon the town.

“Public toilets, such as the one Llangollen and the rest of the county stand to lose, are an absolute necessity if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from either bladder or bowel problems, or you are simply getting on in years and no longer fully in control of your body’s natural processes.

“I note that in the officers’ report on this issue there was a degree of mitigation for the proposal with the suggestion that further uptake of the Community Toilet Grant scheme might be possible. However, I also note from the comments of our local county councillor and Communities Scrutiny Committee member Karen Edwards in a story on this issue which I published last week that, so far, there has only been one business in the country which has availed itself of this scheme. Perhaps you would agree that this doesn’t bode well for how it would fare locally.

“My story also contained evidence from Councillor Edwards that Llangollen Town Council does not have the resources or financial ability to take over the running of the local public conveniences.

“Apart from the human problems this proposal would create if implemented, there is also the inescapable fact that the Llangollen economy replies very heavily on tourism. Throughout the year and especially in the summer months the public conveniences in Market Street are very heavily used. A casual observer will note that the first stop made by many tourist coach passengers when they arrive in the town – and the last as they leave - is to use these toilets.

“Each July the town also attracts many thousands of extra people – many from abroad - who attend  the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and rely specifically on the Market Street public conveniences when they attend the numerous events held off the field, such as those in Centenary Square or in St Collen’s Church, neither of which have public toilets. It is a similar situation of reliance when major events at the Llangollen Railway bring – thankfully – crowds of people flocking to the town.  

“If Llangollen no longer has public conveniences word will quickly spread around the tourism trade that the town is not a good place to stop off and neighbouring towns not in a public toilet-free Denbighshire will instead benefit from these valuable tourist pounds with the result that businesses in this area will be badly hit.

“It has been suggested on social media that getting rid of our county’s toilets is already a “done deal” but I certainly trust that this is not the case. I know that Councillor Karen Edwards’s suggestion at the last Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting that officers produce a further report on this proposal was accepted and I trust the facts as presented to members are taken fully into account.

“Therefore, I fervently hope that when it comes before Cabinet you will think very seriously of the many implications for the community of Llangollen – and other areas in the county – if this proposal is approved and implemented.

“As Councillor Edwards so succinctly put it in her speech at the committee meeting, this can be seen as an illogical act of self-harm to the county.” 

In his response on behalf of all the cabinet members, which came within hours, Cllr Mellor said: “The value and importance of public conveniences is not in question, but it is an unfortunate fact that the council does not have the financial resources to continue providing non-statutory services in the way it has provided them in the past.  That is the reality of the situation we face. 

“No decisions have been made about this (therefore certainly not a “done deal”), and another report will be taken to our Communities Scrutiny Committee before any decision is sought from Cabinet.  

“Our aim is to do what we can to transfer as many PC facilities as possible, and we also do plan to promote the Community Toilet Scheme.  We cannot pre-empt the conclusions of those discussions, because they haven’t happened yet.  We plan to request a discussion with Town Councils in the near future, so I’d rather not speculate about the outcome of those discussions at this stage.  However, I would like to assure you that myself and Cabinet will consider the potential implications for our communities very carefully before any decision is made.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment