Call for consultation over toilet proposals

Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130418113852
Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130418113852

Councillors called for more information and consultation over recommendations to close a series of public toilets across Arun.

The proposals, among the first of Arun District Council’s projects to save up to £4million by 2020, received a lukewarm reception on Tuesday as a working group called out ‘inaccuracies’ and ‘anomalies’ in the plans.

The group urged cabinet members, who will discuss the issue next month, to undertake consultation and fully cost alternative ways of keeping toilets open.

Felpham East councillor Paul English, who also sits on Felpham Parish Council said: “We are not against the proven need to close toilets as long as it is proven.

“We know it is not a legal requirement to provide these things but to the public they see it as a moral need in our area.”

Councillors were urged to endorse seasonal or full closures in areas including Bognor Regis, Felpham, Pagham, Middleton and Aldwick, prioritising ‘key sites’ for investment.

Negotiations would take place with parish councils in affected areas to see if they wanted to take the running of toilets on.

Philippa Dart, assistant director for environmental services, said it was a ‘win-win’ to close under-used facilities and bring others up to standard, including installing disabled facilities.

But the group said there was not enough information, including individual costings and usage figures, for parishes to make an informed decision.

Aldwick East councillor Trevor Bence, now cabinet member for housing, said he was ‘still smarting’ from the previous night’s Aldwick Parish Council meeting, where plans had been heavily criticised.

He said: “We are expected to sell a car to somebody without the keys and I am really struggling with this whole process of sending out a letter to parishes, telling them what our intentions are and then, retrospectively, without the full facts and figures, go back to them and start to sell them the idea.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Hotham ward Paul Wells said the poor state of public toilets was due to the ‘failure’ of Arun to invest and maintain the facilities.

Cabinet member for leisure and amenities Paul Dendle initially said councillors struggled to take tough decisions when they arose. But he supported an amendment by Liberal Democrat councillor Dr James Walsh in calling for more information. Cabinet members will now decide whether to back the call.