‘Wake up call’ over charges for Chichester’s toilets

Communities across the district have been told they cannot bury their heads in the sand any more after council chiefs said no to large-scale closures of public toilets at this stage but yes to looking at a 20p charge.

Chichester District Council leader Heather Caird said at last week’s cabinet meeting that public toilets were an area where it could save money, because provision of the service was not a statutory requirement.

She said: “ If we don’t make savings in this area, we might have to make them somewhere else which would be more painful. If we do nothing in the next five years, we will have a serious deficit which we will have to find. We need some help here – we need the parishes to help us.”

Cllr John Connor, who is also cabinet member for the environment, said: “It’s the communities that benefit from this, and they have to engage on it. They can’t bury their heads in the sand any more.”

There were mixed views from residents in the city about the issue. Karen Gordon, 40, from Chichester, said: “No, I would probably try to avoid them, and if anything I’d go to have a coffee in the need to go in somewhere.

“A 20p charge is hideous, absolutely hideous. I know they nickname it spend a penny, but at the end of the day you do need to go and there shouldn’t be a charge. I know everywhere’s trying to reap revenue, but it’s pointless.”

Helen Kendall, 58, said: “It wouldn’t affect me personally, but if they could be free I think it would help other people a lot.

“If we have to have a charge I think 20p is fine.”

Duncan Butlin, 65, said: “I would just pay the 20p, I’d prefer not to have the public toilets closed.

“I think 20p is reasonable, I’m used to being in Victoria Station and having to pay 30p now.”

The cabinet asked officers to investigate options including a 20p charge per visit at some toilets; a partnership scheme involving local parish councils and businesses to augment existing facilities, or limited closures.

An option which could have seen more than half the toilets closed was set aside for the time being.