Village public toilets set to close

VISITORS to a picturesque village could face an embarrassing problem from next month, which could also threaten its street fair this summer.Debenham's only public toilets will be closed from March 31 while villagers decide whether they want to foot the bill for them by increasing the parish precept.

VISITORS to a picturesque village could face an embarrassing problem from next month, which could also threaten its street fair this summer.

Debenham's only public toilets will be closed from March 31 while villagers decide whether they want to foot the bill for them by increasing the parish precept.

Cash-strapped Mid Suffolk District Council has decided it can no longer afford the running costs for the Debenham loos, and ones at Finborough Road, Stowmarket, and in Needham Market.

The Needham Market toilets will remain open after the town council agreed to take them on, while the Finborough Road ones are to be shut and made safe.


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The loss of the loos at Debenham, with running costs of around £5,000 a year, would be a blow to its plans to develop a small-scale tourist industry in the village to help keep facilities and businesses going.

"The Debenham loos are going to be shut for a temporary trial period while the parish council canvases local opinion over whether they are a useful facility," explained a Mid Suffolk spokeswoman.

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A previous debate in the village over the merits of a continental style pillar-shaped noticeboard, scathingly likened to a French pissoir, resulted in comparisons with the goings-on in the fictional French village of Clochemerle.

The hit 1970s TV comedy, starring Cyril Cusack and Roy Dotrice, charted a village row about the installation of a men's public convenience in its centre.

Debenham, however, faces the problem of losing rather than gaining a convenience.

Gerry Baxter, joint co-ordinator of the village street fair, is worried about the effect the closure will have on the event, which is on June 21.

"My personal view is that how can you promote a village for tourism and put lots of things into tourism and then take away the facilities to back it up?"

The village was developing two woodlands and a lake for the enjoyment of both residents and visitors, he said.

"They could be there for the day, or at least for a few hours, but they have got nowhere for a comfort break, if you like," he said.

"It's up to the village to decide whether they want to progress the things that we are doing for tourism, not only for tourism but to enhance the village.

"If you don't want people to stop, you don't provide the facilities. If you don't have the facilities, people aren't going to come, are they?"

He added: "If you take away the basic facility of toilets you could put the street fair in jeopardy. People say why don't you get mobile toilets but who's going to pay for them?"

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