Thatcham left crossing its legs over public toilet decision
Members of Thatcham Town Council finance and general purposes committee were due to decide last week evening whether it could find £55,000 in its budget to save the public conveniences in The Broadway from closure next year.
West Berkshire Council announced it was pulling its funding and passing the responsibility of all public toilets on to parish and town councils, in a bid to make £1.25m savings from its frontline services.
However, the committee deferred the decision until October, saying that it hoped to persuade the district council to reconsider.
The current service contract – to which the town council makes an annual contribution of £10,000 – is due to run out next April.
It has been estimated that the total cost of maintaining the toilets on an annual basis would be £55,448, which would cover cleaning, refuse collection, repairs and water bills.
Suggesting that the decision be deferred, town councillor Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham South and Crookham) said: “Between now and then, we could seek to have a discussion with West Berkshire Council to see whether there’s any give at all.
“We can deliberately have that conversation.”
Earlier this year, the district council reversed its decision to hang on to a government grant, which the previous year it had distributed to town and parish councils.
This left Thatcham £36,549 better off, however, the town council then decided to reverse its decision to raise its precept by two per cent.
If neither council is prepared to spend the money, Thatcham town centre will be left with no public toilets and shoppers would be forced to go into cafes or pubs, which often are for customers’ use only.
There are toilets in Waitrose, but branch manager Peter Gough said: “We will continue to monitor the situation, however our toilets at present are reserved for the use of our customers.”