Pay to Pee?

Have the pay toilets been tharwted?

Not yet. South Hams District Council recently revealed plans to install pay toilet systems at a cost of £50,000 in the 3 public facilities in Totnes. It seems public dunny facilities are funded from central government – not Council Tax and this funding has now stopped, leaving the lavies completely unfunded.

SHDC say the regions loos cost £1 million a year to maintain but by closing some, transferring others to the local communities and installing pay2pee will save them £226,000 still leaving them caught short.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert has stated: “This proposal has not been about closing toilets. It is about finding solutions to a very real problem.” SHDC are trying to sugar-coat the situation with statements like “Where these facilities are being taken on by the local community, there are clear advantages that will benefit the people who use them“,   “Where we have identified alternative toilets in the local area such as pubs and cafés this may have a positive impact on the local businesses with increased footfall and an increase in money spent in local area.” and even “…for those toilets which will be devolved to Parish and Town Councils it will have a positive impact in terms of keeping those buildings in use...”.

Not popular…

Local townspeople have not taken kindly to the proposals with concerns that it will alienate tourists, cause problems for the weekly markets with visitors choosing to stay away and even claims of human rights violations. It appears there is no legal requirement forcing South Hams to keep any conveniences open. Following a general outcry, SHDC have allowed the problem to be debated with Town Council prior to taking further action with a view to finding alternative solutions.

“Where these facilities are being taken on by the local community, there are clear advantages that will benefit the people who use them”

Proposed Alternatives

Local Councillor John Birch has been very pro-active on this subject and has put forward counter proposals. These include increasing the car parking charges at the Steamer Quay car-park to cover the costs of the facilities on that site. The justification is that this is mostly used by visitors and tourists who make highest use of them. Increasing the fees ‘slightly‘ for Market Traders on the basis that fees are not otherwise increasing this year and that the Totnes town council fund the Coronation Road WC’s to the tune of £3000. Mr Birch believes these measures will save the £50,000 and that this saving be paid to Totnes Town Council as a contribution towards the Civic Square improvements as well as toilet improvements. The Town Council will have another meeting on the 4th February prior to putting agreed proposals to SHDC.

Have your say…

Perhaps you have an idea that could help? If you would like to see the three public toilets in Totnes kept free of Pay on Entry equipment please send an email to making your views known.

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