DETERMINED Pangbourne residents are refusing to give up their fight to have the public toilets at Station Road reopened and have now set up a new community organisation to help fund and manage them.
West Berkshire Council withdrew funding for the toilets in 2015 but said that they could be kept open by Pangbourne Parish Council if it valued them as a local facility and was willing to pay for them.
Since April 2015 the residents’ group Action for Pangbourne Toilets has actively campaigned to have the toilets re-opened and lobbied the parish council to take on the funding and management of them.
However, despite two public meetings and a parish-wide survey showing overwhelming support for this, the parish council decided it was not prepared to do so.
Therefore the only option open to residents was to form a suitable organisation and to run them themselves
Last week a group of campaigners hosted a public meeting to ask residents, local businesses and neighbouring parish councils for their views on setting up the new organisation.
Almost 100 residents packed into Pangbourne Village Hall to find out more about the terms of West Berkshire Council’s offer to lease the toilets to the community, and to pledge offers of financial help and practical support.
Following the meeting, there have been enough pledges of financial donations and volunteer support from the village and the surrounding areas to start the process of setting up a charity, with the intention of re-opening the toilets as quickly as possible.
Although this is just the first step to re-opening the toilets, the group says it is optimistic that once the charity is up and running it will be well on the way to achieving its initial fundraising target of £10,000.
Action for Pangbourne Toilets Community Trust will be set up as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, registered with the Charity Commission.
Local residents and businesses are pledging financial and volunteer help using trust ‘pledge packs’ which are available to download from the trust’s Facebook page and from a number of businesses in the village.