Toilet attendants axed in tourist spot

PENSIONERS will be put off visiting one of west Suffolk's premier tourist attractions if council chiefs remove full-time toilet attendants as part of a �2.5million cost saving package, it is claimed.

Laurence Cawley

PENSIONERS will be put off visiting one of west Suffolk's premier tourist attractions if council chiefs remove full-time toilet attendants as part of a �2.5million cost saving package, it is claimed.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is proposing to axe its toilet attendants service in the prestigious Abbey Gardens and replace it with a mobile service to save �30,000 a year.

The move comes after incidents including a drugs overdose and an attempted suicide at the toilets, and critics claim the cuts, which are part of a wider programme of savings, will further reduce public safety and put some people off visiting the historic market town.


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Southgate Liberal Democrat councillor David Chappell said: “These attendants provide safety and the elderly people - who make up a quarter of Bury's population - who like to go to the park will lose that sense of safety.

“These people pay their taxes. The council says they can't afford the attendants but they could have somebody in there doing something else, such as administrative work, while they are sitting there.”

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Independent councillor David Nettleton questioned how the council would be able to save the �30,000 and maintain hygiene standards with a team of attendants visiting a number of different toilets, including the bus station and Ram Meadow, during the day.

“The concern is that the Abbey Gardens is the jewel in the crown of Bury and you need to have top facilities in your top locations. It doesn't take somewhere long to go from a high standard to a low one,” he said.

“Recently, attendants have dealt with a drugs overdose and attempted suicide. How is public safety protected by these proposed reductions?

“If the staff are removed, how will cleanliness be maintained to the current high standard? The Abbey Gardens is the most used open space in the borough. Shouldn't it have clean, safe toilets to meet the needs of the public?”

A spokesperson for the council said: “This cost-saving proposal will be discussed at policy development committee today and these concerns will be considered.”

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