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Lyme Regis: Pilot project on public toilets gets underway
A PILOT project for “community loos” across West Dorset was on the agenda for councillors faced with the urgent problem of how to provide ladies’ and gents’ facilities in the future.
The Lyme Regis public conveniences are set to be looked at as part of a wider review of seafront service provision in the town.
And local operators who directly benefit from the operation of toilet sites at Seatown, Charmouth and Abbotsbury, could be contacted with the aim of reviewing funding arrangements for the sites.
West Dorset District Council’s Efficiency Scrutiny committee was asked to consider a plan to test out new ways of dealing with the age-old need of where to spend the pennies.
One idea put before the committee by Director of Corporate Services Adrian Stuart is that some toilets could be transferred to specific local businesses like cafes, hotels, leisure centres and shops which significantly benefit from their provision.
Mr Stuart warned that businesses may not wish to take on the financial burden of operating the toilets.
He adds: “The case for continuing to maintain some toilets at taxpayer expense is weak, and the alternative of closure may have to be considered if transfer is not deliverable”.
Public conveniences cost taxpayers more than £500,000 a year, with individual loos costing £12,000 – £20,000 to operate.
“Realistically public loos will not be a priority in the changed financial environment, and progressively run the risk of becoming unfit for use,” said Mr Stuart.
Councillors heard that while the seafront toilets in Lyme and West Bay were very heavily used with more than 1,000 visits a day in high summer, town toilets in Bridport maintained a steady 300-500 visits throughout the year.
Current facilities at pilot sites like Beaminster, Cerne Abbas and Osmington would be mothballed during the trial which would en- tail a grant to the community providers.
The committee agreed to start a trial scheme in Dorchester and start discussions with other councils and possible providers in the areas mentioned in the report.