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Swaffham businesses unite over toilet plans

PUBLISHED: 09:16 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:31 08 July 2010

Businesses in Swaffham have united against plans that could see the closure of the town's only public toilets.

Businesses in Swaffham have united against plans that could see the closure of the town's only public toilets.

Hundreds of people have already signed a petition organised by the Wellbread Bakery owner, Andrew Godfrey, calling on the town council to keep the facility open.

The council is currently investigating the possibility of closing everything but the disabled toilets and paying local businesses to let the public use their toilets instead.

Mr Godfrey said: “I began the petition little more than a week ago and I have hundreds of signatures from the public, businesses, and market traders who agree that if the toilets close then trade will suffer.

“Bus drivers who bring tourists through the town on trips have already said they will no longer stop here if there are no public toilets for the passengers to use.

“It would also be a health and safety hazard for me to let the public walk through the bakery in order to use my toilets.”

Those who have moved to support My Godfrey's appeal include owner of the Legends Café, Stuart Bell.

He said: “The scheme would mean my customers would have to queue to use the café's toilets because of others.

“What we need is an attendant on duty at the public toilets all the time so they don't get vandalised.

“If that means putting a nominal fee in place to generate enough funds for someone to clean and view the toilets then I am for it.”

However, Kay Wells, proprietor of the Market Cross Café, believes the option of charging the public to use the toilets has already been disregarded.

She said: “The proposal for a small charge to be put in place to use the public toilets was put forward but quashed at the last minute.”

“Everybody wants to discuss the options of keeping the toilets open and we were expecting someone from the council to come round and speak to us but no one has.”

Julian Foulkes, owner of the Green Parrot Specialist Health Store and Therapy Clinic, said: “We pay enormous business rates in the town but we do not see any benefit. It should be the duty of any town council to provide public amenities.”

On Monday Swaffham Town Council sought to clarify its position, stating that “the intention is for Swaffham to have public toilets in the foreseeable future.”

“A decision was taken recently to explore the option of a community toilet scheme which would lead to a different approach to the delivery of public toilets in Swaffham.

“The town council is not taking away a service; they are simply trying to deliver it in a better more sustainable way.

“We are very much aware of the importance toilet provision is to the tourist industry and the local economy in general.

“The local businesses do not need negativity in any shape or form in the current economic climate.”

The public toilet review comes just two years after a deal was struck between Swaffham Town Council and Breckland Council to take over the toilets, receiving a one off payment of £245,000 to cover the costs.

A £100,000 of this sum has already been spent on refurbishing the toilets that were subsequently closed due to vandalism.

The council will discuss the community toilet scheme in January with an aim to put it in place by March 31.

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