Toilet attendants face the axe

ONE third of all toilet attendants in a Suffolk borough face the axe because of plans for a town centre shopping development, it has been revealed.Two full-time and three part-time members of staff currently employed to clean a block of toilets in Bury St Edmunds will lose their jobs when the facility closes on October 1.

ONE third of all toilet attendants in a Suffolk borough face the axe because of plans for a town centre shopping development, it has been revealed.

Two full-time and three part-time members of staff currently employed to clean a block of toilets in Bury St Edmunds will lose their jobs when the facility closes on October 1.

It is being knocked down to make way for the town's multi-million pound Cattle Market development, which will include shops and houses when it is completed in 2008.

While St Edmundsbury Borough Council defended its actions - claiming two out of the five people facing unemployment would be given jobs elsewhere in the authority - news of the redundancies sparked anger among local residents, who said it was a “great shame”.


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Ernie Broome, chairman of the Over 60s club on the town's Howard Estate, said: “These toilet attendants do a great job at keeping the town's toilets clean, and I know a lot of people will feel very angry about this.”

The toilets, in St Andrews Street, are being replaced with a temporary block, which will open on October 2 in the Risbygate Street car park.

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Visitors can also use public toilets in the town's Abbey Gardens, Ram Meadow, and the bus station.

“The toilets in St Andrews Street are very handy, and their closure will be a problem for some people - especially the elderly - who will be forced to walk further to go to the toilet depending on where they are in town,” said Mr Broome.

“If the toilets in Risbygate Street are not going to be manned, then there will be no-one to clean them and that is a great concern, because no-one wants to use dirty toilets.”

Work on the temporary toilet block has already begun, with the first step being to lay the foundations.

The toilets are expected to be delivered in September, when the services will be connected, and the ramps, decking and lighting will be installed.

Howard Cook, one of the region's senior Unison officials for the local government sector, said the union was “sorry” to see the redundancies.

“Despite the closure of the St Andrews Street toilets there will be temporary toilets installed - and these will still need cleaning,” he said.

“We are negotiating at present in respect of maintaining as much of the staff and service as is possible.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council currently employs 15 toilet attendants across the borough, in a combination of full and part-time posts.

A spokeswoman said: “The toilets in St Andrews Street will close on October 1 as the redevelopment of the Cattle Market site begins. They will be replaced by temporary, unattended toilets in Risbygate Street.

“Two full-time and three part-time staff will be affected by this. Two of those staff will be redeployed within the council and we will help and support the remaining three in finding employment elsewhere.

“Full consultation has been carried out with both Unison and the staff concerned throughout this process.”

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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