Village gets its toilets back

By Sarah ChambersA PARISH council plans to reopen a village's public toilets after a cash-strapped decided to close them as part of a cost-cutting drive.

By Sarah Chambers

A PARISH council plans to reopen a village's public toilets after a cash-strapped decided to close them as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Debenham Parish Council has resolved to foot the bill for cleaning and maintaining the facilities in the village's Back Lane following concerns about the closure's effect on residents and on visitor trade.

The toilets were closed by Mid Suffolk District Council at the end of March, but they will be temporarily reopened tomorrow for the Debenham Street Fayre.

But Debenham Parish Council chairman, Helen Huish, said it hoped to reopen them permanently as soon as possible.

“We are moving towards reopening them - we have taken that decision. We have thought long and hard about it and decided we have no alternative,” she added.

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Parish councillors believed it would cost up to £9,000 a year, or £10 per household, to meet cleaning fees, insurance, rates, water rates and repairs and maintenance costs for the facilities.

Mrs Huish said taking over the running of the toilets would mean “a considerable financial commitment” for the parish. “We are looking at other ways of financing and we have applied for a grant,” she added.

Suffolk county councillor Helen Whitworth has put up £1,000 from her locality budget towards reopening the toilets.

Mrs Huish said the toilets were a much-needed facility, particularly for visitors, mothers with small children and elderly people in the village.

“It's a very difficult situation. We have had calls from up to 20 coach drivers a week asking if it is true there are no public toilets in Debenham at the moment,” she added.

“Quite a lot of them have said in that case they were not stopping in Debenham.”

Mrs Huish said was “delighted and relieved” the parish council had made the decision to reopen the toilets, but regretted it had come to this.

“It has placed quite a considerable burden on us. We understand Mid Suffolk's reasoning, but it is just a bitter pill to swallow,” she added.

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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