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Closure of public toilets proposed

Published: 8 January 2019

Closure of public toilets Blackboy Road Toilets have been subject to drug taking and antisocial behaviour

Proposals to close a number of public toilets in Exeter which are no longer considered fit for purpose are set to be discussed by councillors.

The City Council’s Executive will be asked to approve a public consultation on permanently closing 15 public conveniences to achieve savings and enable a balanced budget to be set.

A report says that in common with many other cities, many of Exeter’s public toilets no longer serve the needs of residents and are costly to maintain.

It states that many are in the wrong location, are in poor condition and attract serious and repeated anti-social behaviour, including widespread drug use and vandalism. Many are infrequently used.

The report highlights that further central government funding reductions mean the council has to find additional savings of £3.9 million over the next two financial years.

It states: “Every service is being challenged to ensure that it provides value for money and all non-statutory services are under considerable pressure. Public conveniences are not a statutory service and we no longer have enough funding to maintain all the sites we operate.”

Public toilets in key shopping areas like Princesshay and the Guildhall Shopping Centre are not affected and will continue to operate as normal.

The City Council currently operates 26 public toilets. Under the proposals, 11 would be retained across the city, mainly in parks, sporting facilities and tourist areas.

Fifteen are proposed to close permanently, including two which have been closed since 2016. A list of those recommended for closure and retention is published below. 

The report states that the provision of the council’s public toilets is in marked contrast to the large number of good quality, publically accessible toilets, provided by shops, cafes and shopping centres. 

Other cities, including Bristol, have set up Community Toilet Schemes, which list shops, cafes, restaurants and other buildings where the public are able to access toilet facilities free of charge.

Depending on the outcome of consultation, a similar scheme could be considered for Exeter.

The report is due to be discussed by the council’s Executive on Tuesday 15 January.

Recommended for retention:

Cowick Barton Playing fields, Exeter Quay, Exwick Cemetery (In mess room), Heavitree Park, Honiton P&R, King George V, Matford Park & Ride, St Thomas Park, Topsham Cemetery, Topsham Quay

Recommended for permanent closure:

Cathedral & Quay Car Park (closed in 2016 due to repeated anti-social behaviour), Guinea Street (closed in 2016 due to vandalism, heavy drug use and repeated anti-social behaviour), Blackboy Road, King William Street, Cowick Lane, Ennerdale Way, Hamlin Lane, Higher Cemetery, Buddle Lane, Musgrave Row, Okehampton Street, Fore Street Heavitree, Cowick Street, Fore Street Topsham, Whipton (Pinhoe Road)

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