Will toilets stay open?

TAKING over the running of a set of under-threat village toilets could be a ‘potential minefield’ with ‘astronomical’ costs involved.

Kewstoke Parish Council discussed its concerns over the fate of village facilities at a meeting on Monday and members raised doubts about the viability of keeping them open.

The toilets in Beach Road are among those North Somerset Council is looking to off-load as part of a set of drastic money-saving initiatives it has had to explore.

The authority has installed counting devices in 28 toilets to see how many people use them, with the least popular ones expected to be closed if they cannot be transferred to parish councils or private businesses.

The Mercury reported earlier this year that the council hopes to save �400,000 by offloading its responsibilities for running toilets from 2013/14 to other authorities or businesses.

At Monday’s meeting clerk Colin Hill said: “I have some grave concerns about the parish council dealing with a service industry.

“There can be astronomical costs involved when there is a problem.”

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The parish council has been told the toilets will shut in April unless it takes over responsibility for them.

District council officers have already met with parish councillors and told them there is no chance of the parish taking over alternative services to offset some costs and keep the toilets open.

It was agreed at Monday’s meeting to form a working party to discuss possibilities for the facilities.

A number of parish councillors stepped forward to help.

But chairman Cllr Tony Horry warned: “This is potentially a minefield.”