The county council will no longer open and clean the public toilets in the centre of Wooler in winter, but the parish council will do it instead.
Northumberland County Council is undertaking a review of public toilets across the county as part of savings proposals from April onwards, with the aim of saving 40 per cent from the budget.
At a meeting with the chairman and clerk of Wooler Parish Council, county officers gave the village two options for the future running of the toilets at the bus station.
Option one was for the parish council to take on responsibility for cleaning and opening/closing the toilets all year round as well as buying ‘consumables’ such as toilet paper.
The county council would continue to inspect them periodically while also being responsible for maintenance and repairs.
The county council would provide a contribution for taking on the toilets to help towards consumables, but this was only thought to be around £150.
Option two was for the county council to continue doing all of the work as it currently does, but this would only be from March/April (depending on when Easter falls) until the end of October.
The parish council would have a key. enabling it to open the toilets for ‘special events’.
However, on top of this, the parish council could then take on the responsibility for cleaning and opening/closing during the winter months.
The parish council is already responsible for the toilets in Scott’s Park, which are only open during the summer. The cleaning costs for six months are £925.
Members were keen that the toilets remained open all year round, as they are well-used by visitors and bus users throughout the winter as well as the summer.
Given that, the cheapest option was to allow the county council to continue to operate the toilets during the summer.
It is hoped that the current arrangements in Scott’s Park can be carried on through the winter at the bus station.
Coun Rosanna Reed pointed out that the parish council had not factored in this additional expense in the precept as its members weren’t aware of it, criticising the county council for the timing of its review.