North Somerset Council will charge 30p to use toilets on Weston-super-Mare seafront
PEOPLE could soon have to spend more than just a penny to use public toilets along Weston-super-Mare seafront.
North Somerset Council is considering introducing a charge of between 20p and 30p to use the loos at Atlantic Road, Oxford Street and Royal Sands.
The local authority, which is trying to cut £86 million from its budget over the next seven years, is axing its entire £400,000 annual budget for running the district's 29 public loos from April. Some of the toilets are being handed over to town and parish councils to operate, but the authority is planning to keep the well-used sea front toilets open, with a contractor appointed to run them.
A council survey found the Atlantic Road toilets were used just over 1,000 times a day and cost £31,391 a year to run. A 20p charge would bring in more than £70,000 a year while a 30p charge would raise more than £100,000 annually.
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The conveniences at Royal Sands cost the authority £11,788 to run and are used on average 590 times a day while the loos at Oxford Street cost £52,047 a year to run and receive around 1135 visitors a day.
Specialist mechanical devices will be fitted to the three toilets which would collect the money automatically from people needed to answer the call of nature.
Five other toilets in Weston - Grove Park, Ashcombe Park, Clarence Park, The Maltings and Links Road in Uphill – are to be transferred to Weston Town Council to run.
The loo at Richmond Street is to close and a decision has yet to be made on the conveniences at Locking Road car park as a survey has revealed the block may need structural repairs.
Most of the public toilets open between 8am and 8pm, while some are open 24 hours and others closed during the winter months.
The council, which has no statutory duty to provide public conveniences, has already closed seven public loos in Banwell, Backwell, Clevedon, Portishead, Uphill and Weston as part of a cost cutting review.
Congresbury is the latest village whose parish council has agreed to take over its public toilets.
The toilets, in the Ship and Castle car park, cost £5,000 a year to run and are used by an average of 95 people a day. The authority has offered the parish council a grant of £7,000 to carry out minor repairs.
Parish council chairman Martin Lang said villagers were keen to keep the toilets open.