A WELLINGTON councillor “overseeing” the closure of public toilets in the town centre has come under fire.

The facilities at Longforth Road could be closed at the end of March under plans by Taunton Deane Council as it deals with tightening budgets.

Now LibDem town councillor Ross Henley has criticised the move, particularly as the Deane portfolio holder is Conservative Cllr James Hunt, who also represents Wellington on the town council.

Cllr Henley said: “The toilets are close to the Berry’s bus stop in the centre of town and are a useful facility.

“Me and fellow LibDem councillors Janet Lloyd and Nicola Wilson plan to raise this at future Taunton Deane and Wellington council meetings as we are surprised Cllr Hunt is overseeing the closure of this Wellington facility.”

The Deane announced the proposals with a view to saving more than £1million per year. It says councils, if they wish to do so, can take on and run the facilities themselves.

Cllr Henley said: “So far, the matter hasn’t even been brought to Wellington Town Council for discussion over what should happen to the toilets. This doesn’t seem very democratic.”

Cllr Hunt defended his position, saying when he took over the Environmental Services portfolio just before Christmas the budget setting process was already “well underway”.

He added: “Of course, no one, and especially me, wants to see any public services or facilities close. However, as we are all aware, councils have lost over 40% of their budget and inevitably this is going to impact on what the council provides.

“I did my best to find ways to retain additional public conveniences to those originally identified for closure and will continue to do so.

“Wellington has three facilities at present, including the one in the park, and the most central one in North Street is the one I asked to remain. While the one at Longforth Road is convenient for passengers for the coach companies that stop nearby, North Street is the most central for shoppers and the majority of visitors.”

Deane leader John Williams (Conservative) said the council has to make some difficult decisions following “tremendous cuts”.

He added: “We have consistently focused on saving frontline services that are so valued by our community.

“I can understand concerns being raised over reductions in toilets and the option is there for councillors to come up with alternatives.”