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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Town council agrees to seek more information about toilet takeover

* Fate in the balance: the public toilets in Market Street, Llangollen.

Llangollen Town Council members have voted to seek further information about taking over the running of the public toilets in Market Street from the county council.

Denbighshire plans to divest itself of almost all its public conveniences - including the one in Llangollen - to help balance its budget.

This has so far sparked a storm of local protest, with the area's Senedd Member Ken Skates, North Wales Tourism SEO Jim Jones and former GP Dr Rhys Davies among those backing the fight to save the toilets.

County chiefs are hoping that the running of some of the toilets can be taken over by town or community councils.

And Llangollen Town Council discussed the issue at its monthly meeting tonight (Tuesday).

In a report to members beforehand, town clerk Gareth Thomas said: “The town council must be cognisant of the financial implications that transfer of the facilities as initial figures indicate that the current public conveniences run at a loss in excess of £23,000.

“Should the town council be minded to consider an asset transfer then clearly these costs would have to be passed on to the precept [the amount added to the local council tax specifically to finance the town council] and would put additional pressure on local council taxpayers in that there would not be any reciprocal saving reflected in the county council’s charges.”

At the meeting, which was attended by a dozen members of the public a number of whome strongly opposed the loss of the Market Street toilets, the town clerk said: “We have to be mindful of the effects a takeover of the toilets would have on our budgets, bearing in mind the £23,000 deficit they have. We would have to increase our precept to cover this cost.

“If we are going to go down this road we will need independent expert advice. All in all, we need to approach this very carefully.”

Former mayor, Cllr Jon Haddy, said: “We are in the dark as to the financial situation. Unless we have all the relevant information we are not in a position to proceed.”

The deputy mayor, who had earlier made it clear that agrees with people who said the toilets needed to be retained, said: “This needs to be done on our terms.”

Cllr Katherine Susanthan said: “We don’t want to take on an asset that may be a money pit. I suggest that town clerk should look at the kind of grant assistance that may be available to us if we do decide to take them on. It is also important that the public feel their voices have been heard on this very important issue.”

Members agreed to authorise the town clerk to contact the county council’s principal catering and cleaning manager to enter into an “open exchange of information” for future consideration by the town council.

One member of the public present who argued strongly against the loss of the toilets was Rod Holt who also handed in a petition to the town clerk containing 144 names calling for them to be retained.

He also pressed for a public meeting on the issue to be held at the Town Hall, chaired by the mayor and attended by county councillors and officers to answer a series of questions he wants to raise about the proposal.

The town clerk said a meeting could be held but stressed that county officials could only be invited and did not have to come.

In her update on the situation Llangollen county councillor Karen Edwards stressed: “The retention of the public toilets has to be a top priority.”

She added that was still awaiting the analytical report on the situation she had requested from county officers some weeks ago.

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