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Public toilets need to be run differently, or face closure

Two public toilets run by Bridgend County Borough Council are likely to become pay as you use facilities within the next year, while three more will need to close unless they are taken on by town councils.

Cabinet Members from the local authority have this week agreed the next steps for the conveniences after warning that changes need to be made to the way that they are run due to severely reduced budgets.

To help inform their decisions, the council held an eight-week public consultation earlier this year to find out which toilets are relied upon the most.

The Bridgend Bus Station toilets emerged as the most popular facilities, with 89 per cent of the 1,137 survey respondents saying that they use them, and 60 per cent relying on them on a weekly basis.

Given the demand from residents, Cabinet Members have agreed that the bus station toilets should remain open, but will be converted to pay as you use facilities to become more self-sufficient.

Fifty four per cent of survey respondents indicated that they would be prepared to pay to use public toilets.

It is also likely that the public toilets being built as part of the new water sports centre in Rest Bay, Porthcawl will be designed as pay as you use facilities.

The public consultation found that the most relied upon toilets in Porthcawl are those in John Street, which are used by 77 per cent of survey respondents.

The preferred option for the future of those toilets is for them to be taken on by Porthcawl Town Council via a Community Asset Transfer. Discussions are already ongoing with the town council over the Griffin Park toilets, and if agreements can’t be found then both toilets will close.

Similar discussions are also planned with Maesteg Town Council about them taking on the upkeep and maintenance of the toilets near Maesteg Bus Station.

There are long-term plans for new toilets to be part of the revamped Maesteg Town Hall, but in the meantime Maesteg Town Council will be approached to see if they are willing to take on the toilets until then. If they do not wish to do so, the toilets will close.

The toilets at Cheapside in Bridgend are the most likely of all to close. Given their close proximity to pristine facilities at ASDA, Cabinet Members have recommended them for closure, although discussions will be held first with the owners of the adjoining shopping precinct to see whether they would be interested in incorporating public toilets into any future redevelopment.

Due to the financial situation we simply cannot continue to run public toilets in the way that we do now. Before making any decisions we wanted to gather public opinion and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete the public consultation.

This has been an extremely difficult process as we recognise that people consider public toilet facilities to be an important service.

We are making every effort to try to find alternative methods and solutions of providing them, and have appealed to town and community councils, local groups, private businesses and more to work alongside us.

Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities,

I’m pleased to see that some, like Pencoed Town Council, have already embraced this as a way of making fresh investments into our local communities, and I have high hopes that ongoing talks with other partners will also deliver similar results.”

The council also operates a comfort scheme which makes small grants of up to £500 per year available to local town centre businesses that are willing to open up their toilets to non-paying customers. As part of the agreed way forward, Cabinet Members also approved that the scheme should be promoted further and local businesses encouraged to make their facilities available to the public to help mitigate the loss of any public conveniences that may have to close.

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