Public toilets could close in bid to save £400k
DOZENS of public toilets face closure after a council announced plans to withdraw all funding from next year.
North Somerset Council wants to save the £400,000 it currently spends on the upkeep of its conveniences.
It has put the future of all 29 public toilets it is responsible for up for review and is inviting parish and town councils to take over their running.
The authority may also start charging people to spend a penny at some sites.
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The review is part of a drive to cut £47 million in spending over a four-year period.
The council plans to withdraw funding by from its next budget, which comes into effect next April.
Officers have already held talks with a number of town and parish councils to investigate whether they could take over responsibility. Those that are not transferred face being shut.
Just under half of the toilets are in the north of the district while the remaining 15 are in the Weston-super-Mare and Worle areas.
Most open between 8am and 8pm, although some are open 24 hours a day and some close during the winter. They are cleaned at least once a day and busier sites have attendants.
Charges could be introduced in tourist resorts such as Weston and Clevedon.
The council has already closed seven public toilets in Banwell, Backwell, Clevedon, Portishead, Uphill and Weston in recent years.
It has no statutory duty to provide public conveniences.
A decision on which toilets will stay open and which ones will close is due to be made by September.
North Somerset Council's executive member for toilets, Peter Bryant, said: "It is very likely that some of the public toilets will close. We have to make huge cuts to our budgets over the next few years and currently it costs us around £400,000 each year to run and maintain public conveniences.
"We have been talking to our town and parish councils about taking over responsibility for public conveniences and hope we can come to some arrangement to keep them running. We are also talking to local businesses to encourage them to be more flexible about opening up their toilets to the public.
"Another possibility is charging people to use public conveniences like they do in London, as we understand there is a need for toilet facilities in tourist resorts such as Clevedon and Weston. If a scheme such as this was adopted it would not be profit making, but to cover the costs of running and maintaining the toilets."