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Council Wants Your Help to Decide Where to Stop Spending Pennies (and Pounds)

Published on: 19 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 20 Jan, 2022

Ward Street public toilets

Guildford Borough Council wants the public to help them choose which toilets should be kept open, and which of the 16 public toilets in the borough will close.

Their Public Convenience Review consultation, runs until Sunday, February 27 and the council is proposing to close four or five as part of a cost-cutting, budget-balancing programme.

Cllr James Steel

Cllr James Steel, Lead Cllr for Environment said: “While we have no legal duty to provide public toilets, we want to make sure that we provide them where they are needed most, and the facilities are run in the most sustainable way for the future.

“We need to reduce how much we spend each year keeping public toilets open, as well as larger refurbishment costs that will be needed soon.

“Despite being on track to achieve our target of £8 million savings through our Future Guildford Transformation Programme, we need to save a further £6 million – 10 per cent of our spending – over the next four years in Guildford to offset a substantial reduction in government funding and the costs of responding to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“We currently have 16 public toilets in Guildford, 10 in the GU1 postcode area. We always aim to balance the needs of the community while ensuring more efficient services and best use of public money. This is why it is important that we review our facilities and ask local people and businesses to tell us what matters to them.

“Having looked at how much the toilets are used, how close alternative toilets are, and the cost of running each toilet we are proposing to close four or five public toilets and we are now asking local people and businesses to help us choose which ones should close.”

Tunsgate public toilets

GBC say that closing these toilets will avoid future large refurbishment costs and save about £51,000 a year by allowing a vacant toilet cleaner role to become redundant and reducing the number of vehicles required.

The four or five locations that they’re proposing to close are being chosen from the following eight toilets:

Allen House Grounds (York Road Car Park); Bedford Road Car Park; Farnham Road Car Park; Onslow Recreation Ground; Ripley; Tunsgate; Ward Street; Woodbridge Road.

A council spokesperson added: “In our Budget Survey 2021 we asked questions about the services we provide. The 1,481 residents rated each service in terms of importance, priority, and spending. The survey found that public facilities ranked ninth for all three categories, out of the 12 noted services we provide.”

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Responses to Council Wants Your Help to Decide Where to Stop Spending Pennies (and Pounds)

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 19, 2022 at 1:53 pm

    Comments on this consultation may be left via this link to the GBC website. I presume old fashioned letters can still be sent to the council offices for the attention of Cllr Steel.

  2. William Lawrence Reply

    January 19, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    Surely GBC could use these venues to generate additional income. Not by charging but from ideas like business sponsorship, advertising space, etc. If these were seen as an asset rather than a liability.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    January 20, 2022 at 9:33 am

    If GBC needs to save money, how about reversing the increases to councillor allowances agreed under Cllr Spooner and the Tories.

  4. Oliver J C Powell Reply

    January 20, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    I wonder how much it will cost cleaning up the streets as a result of the closures?

  5. Wayne Smith Reply

    January 21, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    There may be no statutory requirement for GBC to provide public toilets but such provision is surely the mark of a civilised society.

    We’ve had £millions wasted on vanity projects and now it’s reported that GBC proposes to spend £170,000 refurbishing the Stoke Park paddling pool, just five years after it was last refurbished. At that time we were told, “A £350,000 refurbishment project has seen a new plant room building erected that houses new filtration and pumping equipment of the latest technology”. Now it’s reported the filters are being blocked because the floor is breaking up. Annual running costs £20,000. Does a paddling pool take priority over public toilets?

    Here’s a suggestion for our councillors who appear so keen to abdicate decision making and are bereft of ideas: the six public toilets earmarked for closure should be funded from the budget of Experience Guildford.

    From their own website, one of the stated aims in their business plan is “Enhancing the cleanliness and safety of the town”. Experience Guildford is funded by a levy on +560 businesses in the borough – and many of those businesses (including cafe’s and food outlets) will see their own cleaning costs increase anyway if they have toilets accessible to the public and the closures go ahead.

    The alternative is “Come to Guildford and experience wild weeing and desperate defecating”.

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