Itchenor’s public toilet could be flushed away

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Despite protests to save our public toilets, the district council has voted to close the city centre loo – and Itchenor’s could soon follow suit.

Despite protests to save our public toilets, the district council has voted to close a Chichester public toilet – and Itchenor’s could soon follow suit.

There were claims the district’s efforts to attract tourists to the area would be damaged if the shutdown went ahead. But the council voted 20-8 in favour of closing the East Pallant car park convenience by the end of 2010-11.

A three-month deadline was also given to Chichester Harbour Conservancy (CHC) to stump up enough cash, together with West Itchenor Parish Council, to reduce the £8,000 running cost and save the Itchenor loo from closure.

Cllr Clare Apel said the toilets were needed for local people as well as tourists, and the proposal should be reviewed.

And Cllr Anne Scicluna condemned the idea to close the city centre toilet as ‘very shortsighted.’ “We are a tourist city, and we want to attract tourism,” she declared. “Towns and cities are judged by tourists on the condition and quality of their public conveniences.”

Cllr Mick Shone said he saw no justification for the closure other than the fact the council would make some money by allowing parking on the area where the lavatories were.

But environment portfolio holder Cllr John Connor said there were other public conveniences nearby, at the Cattle Market.

And toilets in the district council’s East Pallant House HQ were also open to the public in working hours.

Last week, members of CHC said plans to close the Itchenor loo came as a ‘shock and surprise’. The item was discussed at the conservancy’s last meeting on January 20, in which members agreed to fund £2,500 out of the £8,000 total cost of running the loo.

At that meeting conservancy member Adrian Moss said: “I just think if we want to keep tourism and yachtsmen here for the sake of the community, we need to get our message over. We have to have one final go, see what options there are.”

They had hoped the district council and West Itchenor Parish Council would come together to fund the rest.

Cllr Peter Jones said consultation on this issue had been badly handled, and the district council was at fault. He called for the three-month time limit to be withdrawn, and left open.

“It’s no way of dealing with other authorites to say ‘this is it – to hell with you,’” he declared. “There needs to be a compromise on the way forward, with negotiations.”

Cllr Peter Clementson urged the notice should be six months instead of three, to cover the summer period.

The council also decided the Crossfield site in Fernhurst should be mothballed, to allow for determination of the new National Park Authority’s long-term on visitor facilities.

It also agreed a surrender of the lease on the South Harting facility should be negotiated and the the Grange Road site in Midhurst should be closed by April 1, subject to an agreement with the Grange Centre trustees to make facilities within the Grange available to the public in return for a financial contribution.