Future of Wiveliscombe's public toilets still unclear

UNCERTAINTY: The public toilets in Wiveliscombe are due to close on March 31.

UNCERTAINTY: The public toilets in Wiveliscombe are due to close on March 31.

First published in News This is The West Country: Photograph of the Author by

THE future of Wiveliscombe’s public toilets remains unclear, just days before they are due to close.

The facilities on North Street are set to be closed on March 31 under plans by Taunton Deane Council as it deals with tightening budgets.

A ‘dowry’ has been offered to the town council to help run the toilets over the next 12 months, but it is still not clear whether they will be saved.

Town council chairman Bryn Wilson said this week: “No decision will be made until we know the facts and how much it costs to run them.

“If somebody asked you to hire a car the first thing you’d want to know if how much it is going to cost. We won’t decide to take them on or not until we have a full breakdown.”

The Deane announced the proposals with a view to saving more than £1million a year, and says councils can run the facilities themselves if desired.

However, to ‘buy time’ for the council to set a precept for future years, the Deane has offered a one-off dowry of £11,600 to allow for the facility to be transferred to the town council.

Mr Wilson said he wants more answers before making a decision as tax payers could be hit with an increase to keep the services.

He said: “We’d have to increase precept by 45-50% to pay for something we’re already paying for in rates.

“We’re still paying the same rates to the Deane and would have to pay this additional cost as well, so it would work out at around £23,000 a year to keep the toilets.”

Cllr James Hunt, portfolio holder for environmental services at the Deane, said: “Of course, no- one wants to see any public services or facilities close, but as we’re all aware councils have lost over 40% of their budget and inevitably this is going to impact on what the council provides.”

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

He said: “We’ve consistently focused on saving frontline services so valued by our community.

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

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