PENARTH’S public toilets are facing an uncertain future because of proposed funding changes by the Vale of Glamorgan council.
The Vale council is proposing that town and community councils take over responsibility for some public services in the 2020/21 financial year, as part of the Reshaping Services Strategy.
Services included in this proposal are public conveniences, allotments and grass cuttings.
The strategy, agreed by the Vale council in November 2014, is designed to save money across all areas.
Ian Buckley, a councillor for Cornerswell ward, said at a meeting on October 24 that councils in general had a “moral responsibility” to keep public toilets open.
“We are into 10 years of austerity and people are looking to save money, but we need to remember having a toilet is a must-have. Let’s keep them if we can,” said Coun Buckley.
The budget must be discussed and evaluated by Penarth council before a decision is made.
Town clerk Emma Boylan said: “There has to be a level of measured response to anything considered because it is taxpayers’ money.”
It remains unclear whether the toilets will remain open, face a charge, or close entirely.
In May 2019, the Vale council issued a Toilet Strategy report which assessed the needs of each local authority in terms of toilet provision.
It says the Vale council needs to save a total of £3.7 million across the financial year 2019/2020 and some of that saving will come from the £324,000 budget for public toilets.
During a meeting on October 7, the Vale Council said it would continue to ensure public toilets exist for residents and visitors.
But, it was made clear in the agenda that the council “will not be in the position to continue to operate all of these facilities directly and that working in partnership to do so would enable these to continue”.
Brian Rodgers, 76, and Joan Rodgers, 74, of Caynham Avenue, have lived in Penarth for over 30 years.
“We pay a lot of council tax as it is, but I would rather have a charge instead of them closing,” Mr Rodgers said.
“If there were no toilets on the sea front, it would stop people coming here,” Mr Rodgers added.
“Where else would you go to the toilet? You’d have to go to a pub,” said Mrs Rodgers.
In the Toilet Strategy report, 16 business were surveyed. In the survey, 73% of businesses were not willing to let non-customers use their toilet facilities.
Tim, 72, and Christine Wheeldon, 73, from Nottinghamshire, own a property in Penarth and visit the town every few weeks.
“I find toilets very necessary, the less there are, the more I’m concerned” Mrs Wheeldon said.
“For visitors [toilets on the pier] will be very important, it will be necessary. If you want this town to survive you need the facilities,” Mr Wheeldon said.
Consultation regarding the running of public toilets by local councils will be in early 2020.