Toilets are essential in tourist town like Penrith

Date: Tuesday 12th March 2019

I ATTENDED a meeting of Eden Council’s executive when toilets were on the agenda. A more accurate description may be the potential lack of toilets.

A report considered by the members of the executive listed 13 toilets that Eden Council managed, and presumably owned, as of 1st April 2018 — probably an appropriate date in the circumstances. Of those, six are to be handed over to parish councils or local groups.

The fate of the remaining seven are uncertain, although an indication may be gathered from the answer to a question I asked about two in Penrith.

The handover of the toilets in Bluebell Lane and Sandgate are “subject to discussions with Penrith Town Council”. I asked what would happen to them if nobody was willing to take them over and I was told by the portfolio holder that they would be closed.

Many of your readers are almost as old as myself and they will remember, as I pointed out to the council leader, when I was a lad public toilets were regarded as more essential.

Those at Corn Market, Burrowgate and next to the town hall have been consigned to history. We are now reduced to two and, in a tourist town like Penrith, those must not be allowed to follow.

Another interesting aspect of the report was about the toilets at Pooley Bridge. Readers may recall that I had reservations about the installation of “paddles” as a means of charging for their use and “called in” that decision in 2014.

The report states that the toilets have been “plagued by problems with the paddle gates and ongoing costs from manufacturers”. It cost Eden Council £1,860 in 2015 for a maintenance agreement and it was charged £800 plus parts for each visit to repair them.

I presume the cost of the maintenance agreement has increased each year with inflation and I have asked for a written answer as to how much has been spent in total on these toilets since 2014.

The paddles are now to be removed, at more expense, although another charging mechanism is being investigated before the toilets can be offloaded by Eden Council.

As one very sensible councillor has pointed out several times, councils were first set up to safeguard public health. Surely provision of public toilets is central to that aim.

Providing public toilets should be made a statutory duty for councils and I call upon our MP to work to make that happen in Parliament since it is only the government that can do that.

MIKE EYLES

(Eden district councillor)

Brent Road,

Penrith.