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Sep152014

Speech to Second Conservative Motion to Council - 10 Sep 2014

The Bath and NE Somerset Conservative Councillor Group put a motion to Full Council last night 10 Sep 14 on public toilets closures within Bath and suggested the Council Administration revisit their plans for closure by pausing the current programme for conversion of the remaining toilets to 20p entry, consulting with residents as it should have done from the start and getting better value for council tax payers from the contractor.

The motion was won by 33 votes to 26 and the Administration will now have to look again at this controversial issue. Batheaston, Larkhall and Weston public toilets were all closed suddenly in the summers when the administration said they would keep them open in accordance with the wishes of communities until suitable alternatives were found.

This is the speech I gave to Full Council seconding our successful motion:

This is a classic case of a Council which has put its fingers in its ears and refused to listen to its residents. You've used every trick in the book to get your way on this. And what is most tragic is that it did not have to be this way – these modernisations SHOULD have been a positive thing. Instead they have just caused anger and resentment in communities throughout the authority.

You say "We're investing in loos for the future" when in fact you're closing 11 out of 27 loos – and reducing the number of cubicles at the remaining toilets by two thirds.

You say "What people want above all is clean and safe loos" yes, but residents have told you clearly through their petitions, representations and speeches they also want adequate provision and conveniently located loos above all else.

"The new loos will be less likely to abuse and vandalism" - this might be right as the opportunist is less likely to have 20p - but what I also know is that the average person on the street has never got 20p when they need it. Certainly our own Council workers did not have 20p when they were caught short and were found by residents urinating at the back of one of our residents garages. Our residents will no doubt experience a lot more of this!

Why did the Council not consult with our own new established Public Health Unit?

They would have told you that isolation of the elderly and vulnerable is one of the major public health issue of the day. Many elderly people rely upon nearby and convenient loos when out shopping. By closing the provincial loos on High Street and at public transport hubs you're effectively excluding hundreds of older people from the social interaction they need.

You were told by residents how important these facilities were to people through the campaigns of local Ward Councillors, as well asbut chose to ignore their pleas. You said you would keep them open whilst alternatives were sought – then closed them suddenly three months later.

The usage survey was done over two years ago, over a one-week period, giving just a snapshot of usage – not the full picture. The Council then refused to consult with local communities on whether they found the reductions, changes and potential replacements to be acceptable.

You have simply refused to listen.

Indeed, even ward councillors were unaware of the planned cuts in cubicle numbers until after the contract had already been signed and sealed.

Is this consultation? Is this listening?

What’s even worse is this is not even saving the money planned. Neither does it represent a good deal for taxpayers! The cost to the Council of maintaining each toilet has trebled – even though users are now being asked for 20p a time.

The only people who have made a wise investment here is the contractor who'll be laughing all the way to the bank in the great deal they've forged at the expense of residents and council tax payers. And you guys opposite have let it happen.

I therefore second this motion – the only sensible way forward – which asks for a pause in the closure programme while residents are properly consulted and better value gained for the taxpayer.

 

Batheaston Loo - Closed despite the opening of the new foot bridge and cycleway Larkhall Loo - Suddenly closed in the summer after a hard fought campaign  Western Loo - A man was locked in due to the council's rush to close it!

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Reader Comments (1)

By the way Speech to Second Conservative Motion to Council of 2014 was based for some solid motives, its nice for me to know about it.
-Jenifer

August 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJenifer

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