Town councillors in Porthcawl have released a statement expressing their anger and disappointment at a recent decision by Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) to close the public toilets in the town centre unless the responsibility for running and maintaining them can be undertaken by Porthcawl Town Council.
The toilets, located next to the Museum, are in the central shopping area of the town. Porthcawl Town Council said that they were not contacted until July, with the decision to axe them having been made in June, leaving them with little time to consider their options, and have accused BCBC of shameful neglect in regards to maintaining toilet facilities within the town centre.
The Town Council say they are already in advanced discussions with BCBC over acquiring the Griffin Park toilets and allege that public toilets in the town have been subjected to ‘shameful neglect’ to the extent that it will have to literally rebuild Griffin Park toilets when it takes them over within the next few months, which it says are unacceptable given the income that the town provides in terms of council tax and car parking revenue.
Public toilets are important for tourism, a major source of income for the town, as well as for the young families who live there. The Town Council says it has recently worked closely with Awen Trust to re-open the public toilets beneath the Grand Pavilion on Porthcawl seafront, and the toilets at Rest Bay will be also re-developed as part of the new watersports centre.
A spokesperson for Porthcawl Town Council said:
“BCBC’s shocking decision to plough £11.3 million into the City Deal from which Porthcawl or even Bridgend is unlikely to reap any benefit, becomes even more questionable when seen in light of callous cuts to local services and facilities like this. Despite being under a statutory duty to publish a local toilets strategy pursuant to the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, BCBC has still yet to do so. However, it seems its only strategy is to continue closing public toilets and expect local private businesses to open up their toilets to the public.”
However, Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, BCBC defended the decision, saying that with austerity cuts, difficult choices were being forced upon BCBC:
“Due to the financial situation we simply cannot continue to run public toilets in the way that we do now. As a result of austerity, we have had to save £30m in the last three years, but over the next three years we will need to save £30m more to balance the books while continuing to protect services aimed at our most vulnerable residents.
“When considering budget savings, no decision is easy. This isn’t something that we would choose to do if we were not forced to, and we are making every effort to try to find alternative ways of providing public toilets so that as many as possible can remain open.
“We welcome all town and community councils, local groups, private businesses and more to work alongside us in a constructive way and I am disappointed that Porthcawl Town Council have decided to politicise this issue through the media rather than speaking to us directly on this occasion. During the last year, we have had many meetings and conversations with Porthcawl Town Council regarding toilets in Porthcawl, and they were also included in a full public consultation that we held to gather views on which of our public toilets are most needed. We will continue to discuss the matter with Porthcawl Town Council to find a suitable solution.”