PUBLIC toilets in Aldwick are to be kept open, thanks to a new deal.
The three sets of loos – at West Meads, West Park and Avisford Park recreation ground – will be funded through a partnership deal by Aldwick and Arun councils.
Aldwick parish councillors unanimously decided on December 10 by ten votes to nil to back the agreement.
It will see them pay £7,300 for the year from next April towards the running costs of the conveniences.
Vice-chairman Cllr Molly Myers said: “This has been a controversial issue and we, as a parish council, have to consider what is most beneficial to our parishioners.
“The public conveniences are not only used by our residents but also by visitors, work people and delivery people.
“In an ideal world, we should not have to ask our parishioners to contribute towards these costs.
“But we all are aware of the economic situation and, if we don’t reach some agreement, these toilets are likely to close.”
The parish council paid towards the upkeep of the then four sets of toilets across the area for many years.
But it pulled out of the deal in March 2011 because it had considered for a while it was getting poor value for its contribution of around £7,000 a year. This led Arun to shut the Marine Park Garden toilets the following autumn. They have never re-opened.
Cllr Dr Tony Poland, the parish council’s chairman, said the new agreement should ensure such disputes would not recur.
The contract will stipulate four key points. These are:
n A separate listing for each site
n Clauses clearly setting out the expected level of service and standards from Arun’s contractor
n A clause about communication and reporting, with the parish council having links to a nominated district council officer
n A performance default clause which will allow the parish council to receive a pro-rata refund of its funding.
The final details of the contract would be worked out by the councils in the coming months, he stated.
The parish council has been represented by councillors John Hockenhull and Stella Coppard.
Cllr Hockenhull said: “We asked for a separate listing for each site. That gives us a good control.
“If there’s a problem with one toilet, we can deal with that instead of breaking the agreement, which we did last year.
“We will stop paying the funding for that toilet until we consider it is right.”
Arun had originally asked for £12,000-14,000 towards the toilets’ costs but had agreed, after tough talks with Cllrs Hockenhull and Coppard, to reduce the demand to take the parish’s population size into account.
After the debate, Aldwick West district councillor Phil Hitchins said: “I thank the parish council for doing that. It is a really good sign Aldwick is doing its bit.”