Posted: Wed 28th Jun 2023

Concerns over closure of public toilets in Pembrokeshire dismissed

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023

A call for a moratorium on halting potential public closures in Pembrokeshire until next March was not backed by senior councillors at their May meeting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet approved the Local Toilet Strategy 2023 – required under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 – at its April meeting. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It is intended to help address the current challenges faced by local authorities in continuing to sustain provision during times of substantial financial pressures. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Although not connected to the toilet strategy recently passed, concerns had previously been raised about the potential closure of some toilets in the county. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A report heard at the February meeting of Cabinet listed 30-plus toilets at potential risk of closure if community asset transfers to town and community councils weren’t agreed, or funding streams not identified. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It was later agreed money from the second homes element of council tax would provide a lifeline for these toilets, up until November, while negotiations with stakeholders including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park continue. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It also included those toilets already in negotiations having a stay of grace until the end of the financial year, and the option of further discussions about potentially keeping open toilets where a strong case was identified. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Late last month, Councillor Huw Murphy, with the support of his 16 fellow Independent Group councillors gave notice of the call-in request for both the toilet strategy and an extension of the period of grace for those at risk of closure. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

At the council’s Extraordinary Policy and Pre-decision Overview and Scrutiny Committee, he had called for the period of grace to be extended to March 31, 2025, later amended at that meeting to March 2024. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

At the May 22 Cabinet meeting, Cabinet members discussed the approved ‘call-in’ from the committee. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services Rhys Sinnett told members he felt the ‘call-in’ was premature, any change a temporary fix. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Sinnett again emphasised the council was hoping to keep as many toilets open as possible, with hopes other bodies could take on their running. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Members were told that many discussions with town and community councils about taking on the running of their toilets were ongoing, with two definitely not taking up the option of funding their toilets. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

After a lengthy discussion, Cabinet members agreed to endorse the previous Cabinet papers, pointing out that officers had discretion to continue funding toilets to March, where negotiations were ongoing. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Members also agreed to note the concerns of the Policy and Pre-decision Overview and Scrutiny Committee. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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