Council grateful for community support on toilets

Alnmouth public toilets
Alnmouth public toilets
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Northumberland County Council has welcomed the support of communities following its review of public toilets, as businesses sign up to allow use of their loos.

The council currently spends approximately £600,000 a year on public toilets, with a third of the cost relating to the opening, closing, cleaning and restocking. The review is looking to make savings in the region of £150,000 over the next financial year.

Of the 62 public conveniences across the county, agreements have now been reached for 53 of them while discussions are ongoing with town and parish councils on a further four.

It hasn’t been possible to reach agreement with the parish council over the opening arrangements for toilets at Alnmouth and these are now in the process of being closed this week for the winter period and will reopen next Easter.

Good progress has also been made to secure improved public access to private toilets via the council’s You’re welcome to Use Our Loos scheme, with 12 organisations having now formally signed up to the scheme with a further six expected to join up soon.

This is a voluntary scheme where local businesses allow the county council to advertise their toilets for public use without the need for visitors to buy anything. Those businesses participating display a You’re Welcome sticker which identifies them with the scheme.

A small financial incentive has been offered to some local businesses in areas where full or partial closures of public toilets have been proposed as this alternative solution has helped deliver an overall saving for the council.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “We’re very aware the important role public toilets play in supporting the local economy by providing valuable amenities for shoppers, visitors and tourists and that’s why we provide a large network of public conveniences across Northumberland.

“However, we do need to move towards a new model of delivering public toilets which offer a better standard of service at less cost and which also help support the local economy.”

“This review has been a challenging process, but what has really stood out is the positive response and willingness to help we have received from the majority of town and parish councils and local businesses.

“They have understood the reasons we have had to do this review and it’s led us to develop more collaborative arrangements which help ensure we can focus our limited financial resources on where they deliver the most benefit to our communities during these challenging times.”

The businesses which have signed up to the You’re Welcome scheme are: Alnwick – George Inn; Amble – Harbour Inn; Amble – 81–83 Queen Street; Ashington – Wetherspoon’s; Bellingham – Cheviot Hotel; Berwick – Magdalene Fields/ Magdalene Golf club; Blyth – Wetherspoon’s; Dunstanburgh – Embleton Golf Club; East Chevington – Sports & Social Club; Holy Island – Pilgrims Coffee Shop; Prudhoe – Waterworld;

Warkworth – Hermitage pub.

Other businesses are still able to join the scheme on a voluntary basis and display the You’re Welcome to Use Our Loos stickers, helping their local area promote a welcoming, friendly, accessible image to residents and visitors. Any businesses interested in joining can contact 0345 600 6400 or yws@northumberland.gov.uk

For more information, the public can go to www.northumberland.gov.uk/loo