NEWBURY’S Wharf public toilets could have a contactless payment system if turnstiles are approved by town councillors.
Newbury Town Council took on the running of the Wharf toilets earlier in the year, in a move set to cost around £30,000, and discussed the option of installing turnstiles at a community services committee meeting on Monday.
At the meeting, councillors voted to approve a contract for Healthmatic Ltd to continue running the lavatories, which were temporarily closed in April after West Berkshire Council withdrew funding as it struggled to cut £17.5m from its budget.
However, as coach companies threatened to boycott the town due to the lack of amenities, they were reopened just weeks later, with Newbury Town Council now taking on responsibility.
Councillors heard how the turnstiles would cost £10,000 to install (which would be covered by West Berkshire Council) and see the town council bring in a revenue of around £5,520 each year.
Speaking at the meeting, Healthmatic Ltd representative Ajay Spoila explained turnstiles would also have the option to pay by coin but the additional contactless payment option would mean those using the facility would be not need to fumble around looking for the 20p charge in change.
He added that the turnstiles would reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour as well as lessen the need for change machines or storage boxes.
However, the cost of taking on the toilets raised concerns from some members of the committee, with John Gardner (Lib Dem, St Johns) saying: “Six months ago we were looking at the situation of closing the toilets, we made the decision and now we’re going to put £30,000 a year in it. It seems quite a turnaround.”
Chairing the meeting, Howard Bairstow (Con, Falkland) said: “The one thing we don’t want to have is the town being used as a public toilet.
“Maybe £20,000-£30,000 is the price to pay.
“The step is a good move to take – from not having anything to having something and putting money in for an important facility.”
A decision on the turnstiles is set to be made next month.