The future of rural and town centre toilet facilities moves to the next committee stage at West Devon Borough Council.


In order to meet growing budget pressures, the Borough Council has had to look closely at services which aren't funded by central government and which are not a statutory service.  They have been trying to find solutions to the funding shortage by working hard with local parish and town councils to see how they can keep toilets open, particularly where the local need for a public toilet was felt to be necessary.

Over the past few months, there have been a number of detailed discussions in the affected communities to reach a decision on each toilet provision.  During these meetings, the Borough Council offered parish councils a number of options: firstly, an option to take on full responsibility for the public toilets in their area, including a transfer of the freehold or leasehold property, or a second option to make a contribution towards the cost of running public toilets equivalent to 75% of all costs.

Following those discussions, Brentor, Yelverton, Chagford, Lydford and Fairplace (in Okehampton) facilities will be transferred over to their parish and town council, with some transfers still subject to final details being agreed.  

The closure of Bedford Bridge, Princetown and Market Street (in Okehampton) toilets will be considered at the next Council meeting with a view to closure by 31 March 2019.  The future of Tavistock toilet facilities will be decided following a Town Council consultation with residents over the coming weeks.  A final decision will be made by 31 March.  Where possible, closed facilities will be sold so that empty, unused buildings are not left as targets for vandals, and in the meantime, they will be monitored.

Hatherleigh Town Council has agreed to contribute 75% of running costs from 2019/ 20 with an increased contribution to reach 100% within three years.

The Council are keen to stress that disabled facilities will remain unchanged for those using a Radar key for access.  

Cllr Robert Sampson, Lead Member for Commercial Services, said: "Nobody wants to close toilets, but we have our hands tied with such huge cuts from government.  To be able to continue to deliver our core services, savings have to be made. 

"We have had extensive conversations with local parish and town councils who will be affected by these changes, to see how we can work together to continue to provide services where we can.  A number of parish councils are taking on responsibility for toilets in their area and that is a great help, which we are grateful to receive.  In some cases, neither the parish nor the Borough has been able to bear the cost and regretfully, this will result in some closures to the more rural or less used town centre toilets.

"Over the next three financial years, through the recommended service changes, we can save £254,718.  That's a massive and necessary saving to enable us to maintain core services for our residents."

The final decision will be made at the West Devon Council meeting which will take place Tuesday 12 February at 4:00 p.m.


29 January 2019