Anger at bid to close public conveniences

MOVES to close public toilets in Forest Heath have come under fire from critics who claim the proposals pose a threat to the area’s tourism industry.

Proposals made by officers at Forest Heath District Council recommended closing toilets at Mildenhall swimming pool, the Wings Road car park in Lakenheath and the Memorial Gardens conveniences in Newmarket.

Officers also urged introducing charges at the Guineas in Newmarket and to keep the Bury Road car park loos in Brandon on an “as is” basis until it, too, is eventually closed.

The proposals, which are designed to save taxpayers’ cash, were laid out in a secret “exempt” paper.

The council’s community services committee looked at the paper and has agreed to shut loos at Mildenhall swimming pool and, eventually, at Brandon. The committee has given both the Wings Road car park loos and those at the Memorial gardens a stay of execution while discussions on alternatives to closure are investigated. Charging at the Guineas in Newmarket will not be pursued.

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The decisions made will not come into effect until they have been looked at by the overview and scrutiny committee later in the month.

Moves to close the loos have been strongly criticised by Liberal Democrat councillor Pat McCloud. He said not only were public conveniences a vital public service which were used by people both young and old but were also an important part of sustaining tourism in the district.

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“If you’ve got people coming in to see places like Newmarket and Mildenhall then to close the public toilets is simply an absolute nonsense. And I believe we do have an obligation – even if only a moral one – to supply toilets to the public.”

Nigel Roman, chairman of the community services committee, said the council would be looking at other alternatives to closing the loos but said even if the towns affected lost their council-run conveniences as recommended, toilets would still be available for use – such as those in supermarkets.

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