Weston's 'neglected' public toilets defended by council chiefs
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Weston-super-Mare’s “neglected” public loos have been defended by council chiefs.
Mike Bell said work was needed to improve accessibility but the town has more toilets to offer tourists than other seaside resorts after some were saved from closure.
Yet he accepted there is more work to do after recognising that some are not open at the right times, some need to be modernised and others have been subject to repeated vandalism.
Responding to a question on the executive’s regular Facebook Live session, North Somerset Council deputy leader Councillor Bell said: “There’s no requirement for public toilets. There’s an expectation in government guidance that local councils provide public toilets but there’s no standards, a bit like libraries.
“Weston gets a bad rep on public toilets. We’ve got 10 public toilets, which is a lot more than many other seaside towns have and certainly more than many neighbouring towns people often say are much better than we are.
“People talk about going to Wells – they’ve got one toilet. It probably is gold standard because they’ve only got the one.”
He added: “We’ve got some work to do. We’re trying to improve the toilets in Weston.
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“We have a plan to deliver some investment over the longer term and particularly get some additional disabled-friendly toilets because that’s been a real gap in Weston for a while.
“Bear with us. There are no easy solutions because unfortunately the public toilets in Weston were neglected over a long period of time. A number were closed under previous administrations.
“We’ve got some challenges we need to tackle.”
There is a 20p charge to enter the public loos, half the price of “smart new toilets” council leader Don Davies saw on a visit to Wales.
“If we charge 40p a visit, which is what they were charging in Porthcawl, I suspect we’d get a lot of questions why it’s so expensive,” he said.
Cllr Catherine Gibbons said the council had talked “at length” before the pandemic about introducing a community toilet scheme, where businesses put a sticker in the window saying people can use the facilities even if they do not buy anything.
“A previous council would’ve liked all the toilets closed and the town council stepped up and took over a substantial number of the toilet facilities,” she said.
“We’re struggling to provide an ideal solution. We’re committed to making it better for everybody, particularly disabled people.”