Heated debate about future of public loos at Rothbury

Public toilets along the riverside in Rothbury.
Public toilets along the riverside in Rothbury.

Councillors were locked in a heated debate over whether the public toilets at Rothbury riverside should be reopened.

Last year, the parish council agreed by a majority decision not to reopen the WCs, close to the children’s play area and opposite the Haugh car park.

They voted to demolish the block – criticised for its poor state and being prone to flooding due to its proximity to the Coquet – and use the annual £5,000 maintenance bill to encourage businesses to let the public use their toilets. There are also loos on Bridge Street.

At the time, the issue split opinion and, at last week’s meeting, members once again locked horns over the subject.

Parish council chairman Jeff Sutton and Coun Avril Graham – who have never been in favour of closing the loos – called for them to be reopened.

Coun Sutton said: “There should be toilets there. We should find a way to utilise what we have. It would be cheaper to refurbish them and bring them up to standard.

“They are dingy, but that could be remedied, and it won’t get damaged by flooding.”

He suggested putting the debate out to the public, believed options to reopen them should be explored and added that the Bridge Street toilets were in a ‘dangerous’ location.

During public question time, Chris Butterworth called for the toilets to be reopened, saying they are badly needed and she knew people who had wanted to use the facility and were ‘distressed’ to find it shut.

She suggested the parish council considers grant funding to help upgrade the loos.

But other members weren’t in favour. Coun Peter Dawson said: “They aren’t fit for purpose and flood. If you applied for funding for that block in that place, it would be refused.”

He believed that, over the next 12 to 18 months, the county council will ask town/parish councils to take responsibility for toilets, which could become costly.

After debate, it was agreed that the council would ask the county council about its intentions for public toilets for the forthcoming financial year.