Amble Town Council has agreed to fund the opening and closing of vandal-hit public toilets at weekends until after the new year.
The loos beside the Tourist Information Centre on Queen Street have been targeted by louts in recent weeks.
The first major incident was at the start of December, which included the sink being kicked off the wall, tiles smashed and a broken toilet seat. This was followed by further damage.
Northumberland County Council’s neighbourhood environmental action teams’ overtime provision has run out and changes have had to be made to the toilets’ opening hours.
The county said that the loos would no longer be locked at around 5pm; instead they would be closed mid-afternoon when the operative’s shift ends. The authority admitted that this created a problem for weekends and suggested that the operative could open the facilities on a Saturday morning, but would not return to Amble to close them, leaving them unlocked and unchecked until Monday morning.
The county said, ideally, to ensure the toilets remain open, a volunteer would be required, at least for a Saturday, to lock up at the end of the day, at least in the short-term. But, following continuing vandalism, the authority said that the toilets would be closed from Friday afternoons to Monday mornings.
The Broomhill Street toilets are open on Sundays, after an agreement with a market trader, and it was suggested to point people in the direction of businesses in the You’re Welcome To Use Our Loos scheme.
But, at Thursday’s town council meeting, Coun Jeff Watson said: “I think the town council should fund the toilets being opened and locked on a Saturday and Sunday, from now until the New Year.”
Deputy Mayor Coun Jane Dargue added: “We are doing so well in terms of tourism, it is essential that we keep the toilets as a facility for people, even if that means us biting the bullet and doing it ourselves.”
But Coun Helen Lewis voted against. She said: “I am not convinced that our rate payers should be expected to pay to have them opened and shut.
“Many people visiting Amble go to places like the Harbour Village, so perhaps, if the Harbour Village and the shops are happy for the toilets to be open, they should put money in.”
In other news from the meeting, the town council is keen for the Amble clock tower roof to be looked at, following concerns that water is getting in.
But Coun Helen Lewis said that she thought that a lot of the rainwater was coming in through the shutters on the sides and wondered if it was possible to ‘semi-block’ them off from the inside.
Meanwhile, a quote has been accepted for the purchase of a device which will regulate the clock.
The town council has given a £550 donation to Amble’s Hope House Farm Equestrian Centre and £100 to the Great North Air Ambulance Service. Councillors also agreed to give a £100 donation to Alnwick-based Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC), but will ask NTC to perform in Amble.
Coun Robert Arckless is still pursuing an issue about land ownership at Gordon Villas, following a complaint by a resident at the October meeting, who said that the road was in a poor state of repair.
Coun Jeff Watson said that a pole that was erected on a patch of grass on Acklington Road, outside James Calvert Spence College’s middle school, has been removed. He said that it was knocked down a day after being installed, and then removed.