Harrogate Borough Council is looking to close three public toilets in the District as part of a spending review.
The review of toilets is part of a wider review looking at the value for money being offered by some of the Council’s assets.
- The final decision will be made by the Harrogate Borough Council Cabinet on the 9 December 2015, this is formed of 6 Conservative Councillors
The toilet provision in the entire district has been reviewed and a consultation was undertaken between July and September this year. The consultation called for opinions on 5 toilets in the Harrogate District:-
- Bond End, Knaresborough
- Waterside, Knaresborough
- Devonshire Place, Harrogate
- West Park (Tower Street MSCP), Harrogate
- Lupton Bank Glasshouses
The consultation was not taken to the general public, limited to local community groups only.
The Council’s own report acknowledges that the 122 responses received were overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the toilets.
General feedback from the consultation (extract from Harrogate Borough Council’s report):
- A wish to see the Council investing in and improving toilets in the district (responses particularly identified a need for investment at Library Gardens, Harrogate and in Pateley Bridge).
- The need to improve signage for public toilets so that residents and visitors are better informed about where they are is located.
- Suggestions that community ownership could be investigated as an option to help avoid closures.
- An acknowledgement that although many consultees ideally did not want to see any toilets closed, many people would prefer to close toilets rather than see reductions in essential council services
- Although providing public toilets is not a statutory function for local authorities, feedback from the consultation identified the importance of providing quality public toilets throughout the district and the significant impact they have upon the comfort of those who visit public spaces and their perception of the area as a desirable place to visit.
The Council have said that the use of some of the toilets does not justify keeping them open.
A proposal will be placed before Harrogate Borough Council Cabinet (6 Councillor’s from the elected 54) on the 9 December 2015 and it will comprise:
Bond End, Knaresborough
Knaresborough Town Council have expressed a wish to look at alternate solutions in keeping open. A decision on this facility will be delayed until the end of January 2016.
To remain open and developed to included disabled access.
Devonshire Place, Harrogate
To be closed and demolished, with savings used to develop toilets by the library in the town centre.
West Park (Tower Street MSCP), Harrogate
To be closed, with savings used to develop toilets by the library in the town centre.
Lupton Bank Glasshouses
To be closed.
There is a Public Toilet ‘earmarked reserve’ of £127,058 and the Council’s intention is to use that to develop the Knaresborough Waterside and Harrogate Library toilets to bring them up to a specification that is “fit for purpose” and full disabled access.
Closing Devonshire Place toilets there give be a yearly cost saving of £5,700 once it has been demolished at a cost of £15,000. Tower street toilets can not be demolished, being part of the car park, and will save the Council £4,700 per year. The Tower Street facility may generate income to the Council with an alternate use.
Whilst there is understanding that Council’s are continually being squeezed on budgets available to them and that there is an obligation to spend money wisely, the elephant in the room remains the need to for a new office for Borough Council staff.
The justification in the reduction of services to save £10,400 per year is not easy case to make with a multi-million spend for a new Council office building.
The Council will say there are year-on-year cost savings with a new office, but as staff have now been moved from the Knapping Hill site to Springfield House, and apparently fit the accommodation well, this, along with the failure to sell Crescent Gardens means the cost benefits are certain not visible to the public.