The decision to refuse the transfer of public toilets and other assets has been described as ‘shameful’ and ‘an abomination.’

A report went before the new Dorset Council’s Shadow Executive Committee on Monday, in which West Dorset District Council recommended town and parish councils in West Dorset take over some assets, and the remainder of the set aside £1.3m to facilitate the transfer be allocated.

The district council had identified a number of its services, including toilets and Tourist Information Centres (TICs) as discretionary services that may not be capable of being fully funded in the future.

One option was to attempt to discontinue the services or sell them, however, accepting public conveniences ‘make a valuable contribution to the economy particularly in a tourist area, and therefore may prove difficult to close’, it looked at alternative options, such as transferring the services to, or funding services differently by, other organisations such as town and parish councils.

Its reason for doing so was to ‘reduce costs to the public purse’.

The reasons for the recommendation of approving the transfer was to provide cost reductions to WDDC and the future Dorset Council, while retaining important local services that contribute to the economy.

District council officers have been in discussions with representatives of Bridport Town Council over the course of the past year and had, in principle, agreed to the transfer had identified five toilets and a range of other assets that could have been transferred.

But the Shadow Executive Committee refused the transfer, leading to uproar amongst town councillors who fear the public toilets face an uncertain future under the new council.

At a full meeting of Bridport Town Council, councillors said assurances had been given over the transfer and that ‘within 15 minutes, 15 months of work was swept away.’

Cllr Sandra Brown said she was ‘appalled’ by the decision.

“I’m appalled this is happening the way it is,” she said. “The amount of time that has been wasted – I’m appalled we can’t do anything about it.”

Cllr Dave Rickard said it was a ‘catastrophe.’

He said: “We were the only [council] who had a plan and got an approval of that plan. This decision is short-sighted and a bad deal for West Dorset."