Debate over closed toilets rolls on

NRHN 09-10-12 BE 8 David Clarke outside the ripley Grosvenor Road public toilet to close
NRHN 09-10-12 BE 8 David Clarke outside the ripley Grosvenor Road public toilet to close

A Ripley department store owner says traders should not have to make up for lost public toilets - after decisions to close facilities down.

The Amber Valley Borough Council decision to shut the loos it operates on Grosvenor Road, and on November 2, its Market Place facilities, was taken after nearby businesses signed up to its Community Toilet Scheme.

It will save the authority more than £5,500 a year.

But Chairman of Ripley Chamber of Trade David Clarke, who owns Clarke’s department store on the same street, says the £600 yearly fee offered to traders who sign up to the scheme to open their toilets for public use, is not enough.

He said: “There are small villages throughout Derbyshire that have toilets - but then in a town with 24,000 people we will have none.

“We as a business are not set up to provide that service, we don’t want a queue of people using our facilities.

“Someone else might want to take up the scheme, but £600 is nowhere near adequate, it would barely cover the toilet paper.”

Council leader Stuart Bradford said it is closing under-used public toilets because of high maintenance costs.

He said: “Public toilets are abused. Quite often they are used for everything but what they were designed for.

“I suspect very few ladies use public toilets -they always dive into a supermarket or big store.

“They cost us an awful lot of money - just to see them trashed.”

However Mr Clarke believes toilets are a ‘basic service’ that “should be provided for by the council.”

So far the council says ‘minimal disruption has been caused by the facilities closed so far in Somercotes, Ripley, Ambergate anbd Duffield

But Labour councillors have also spoke against the Community Toilet Scheme.

Somercotes Cllr Paul Smith “It’s a 12-month contract, what happens if these people walk away after 12 months?”

Administration and finance manager of Amber Valley CVS in Ripley, Adele Atkinson, says it has had few people use its facilities since taking up the scheme five months ago, and thinks people may be ‘intimidated about walking into pubs or businesses to use the loo. But she said: “I would rather people came here than go to those other toilets on Market Place!”

The council says some businesses in Heanor have expressed interest in the scheme