Public toilets in Essex village shut after council caught short on lease

PUBLISHED: 09:04 02 October 2009 | UPDATED: 07:23 30 May 2010

SHOPPERS and residents have been forced to cross their legs after public toilets in Felsted were closed down in what is being labelled as a cost-cutting measure. Located in the centre of Felsted and owned by The Swan Inn the toilets were leased out to Utt

SHOPPERS and residents have been forced to cross their legs after public toilets in Felsted were closed down in what is being labelled as a cost-cutting measure.

Located in the centre of Felsted and owned by The Swan Inn the toilets were leased out to Uttlesford District Council for use by the public and around 50 allotment holders.

However, they were closed down at the beginning of the month forcing people in Felsted to go elsewhere.

Felsted parish council spokesman, Alan Thawley, said: "We are all miffed and currently crossing our legs. We do not want people coming to the village and being caught short, we want Uttlesford to look into re-opening them until something else can be done to keep them open permanently.

"We are trying to keep businesses going in the village and they need help to attract people to the centre. People and customers need somewhere to go."

Felsted parish clerk, Peter Watson, says this is unacceptable and above all the toilets need upgrading. He said: "Having let the lease expire, Uttlesford no longer has public liability insurance for the toilets, and has therefore closed them. By ceasing to provide the daily cleaner, Uttlesford is 'saving' about £8000 per year. The parish council however, sees this as a decision to pocket £8000 for which Felsted tax payers no longer receive a service.

"The toilets are in need of upgrading, with provision of disabled access, for example. Pub owners, Greene King, are not prepared to spend the money, and Uttlesford say that they cannot pay for improvements to someone else's property.

"The Parish Council is pretty helpless as, unlike in Great Dunmow, Thaxted or Saffron Walden where the town or parish council has been able to adopt a building owned by Uttlesford, this option is not available to us."

An Uttlesford District Council spokesman said that without a lease, they had no alternative but to close the toilets.

However, they said that they are committed to helping villagers to find an alternative, possibly through a community toilet scheme where shops provide facilities in return for a modest payment by the district council.

Mr Watson said: "The problem is that there are very few businesses in Felsted which are in a position to agree to this. The British Legion Club has told me that they are not prepared to offer theirs, which have recently been refurbished, because of their concerns about the security of the rest of the building. Greene King, who own The Swan and therefore the existing facility, are unlikely to offer, and the other businesses are all small shops and offices."

HAVE you been caught short? E-mail us at editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk or write to us at 54 High Street, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1EE.


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