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Public to Decide Which Toilets to Go

Published on: 5 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 7 Jan, 2022

The public toilets in Woodbridge Road are on the long list for closure

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Up to five public toilets will be closed across Guildford but it’s up to local residents to decide which ones to save.

Guildford Borough Council’s Executive voted last night (January 4) for the closure, in principle, of up to five facilities from a long list of eight.

The proposal would see them close from March this year.

The long list comprises public toilets at Allen House, Bedford Road, Farnham Road, Onslow Recreation Ground, Ripley, Tunsgate, Ward Street and Woodbridge Road.

Councillors also voted to end the funding given to Ash and Shere Parish Councils for their public toilets.

The council currently provides 16 public conveniences, ten of which are in the GU1 area, and the total money saved by the council after the closures would be £65,000 a year.

See also: Inconvenient Closures Likely to Leave Those Taken Short Hopping Mad

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Council Leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch) said in the council meeting making the decision to cut discretionary services was something no members came into council to do.

He said: “This is not something we do lightly. It’s one of the worst decisions we have to make. But for me, I think we have to make it and put this out for public consultation.”

Council officers have recommended the closure of toilets at Allen House, Bedford Road, Ripley and Woodbridge Road.

The proposed closure of Ripley would mean only four sites would need to close rather than five, because of its location further away from Woking Road Depot, and that the borough council pays Ripley Parish Council to open and close the site.

An officers’ report into the sites noted that needles were often found by cleaners at the Allen House and Bedford Road toilets, and that business rates of more than £3,000 were payable on the Ward Street conveniences.

South West Surrey Disability Empowerment Network chair, David Beaman, who is also a councillor for Farnham Residents on Waverley Borough Council, spoke at the meeting.

He suggested parking charges could be increased in the borough to cover some costs of running the toilets, and that the council should consider closing the facilities over a number of years rather than all at once.

He acknowledged that as a councillor he understands the budgetary issues councils are facing.

Cllr James Steel

Cllr James Steel (Lib Dem, Westborough), lead councillor for Environment, said other options had been looked at by the Service Delivery Executive Advisory Board, including charging and sponsorship, but he felt that the public consultation should go ahead.

He said that it wasn’t as simple as increasing one charge to make up for other costs, and the council’s financial position won’t allow it.

Cllr Bigmore said the borough council was already planning to increase parking charges “quite a lot” and said Shere Parish Council might start charging for parking which would give them revenue to spend on public toilets.

The consultation will begin in mid-January and run for six weeks.

From the archive, July 2019: Council Backs Guildford’s Toilets and Plans New One for Disabled

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test 14 Responses to Public to Decide Which Toilets to Go

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 5, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    Keep them all. Forget the cycle lanes and use that money.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    January 6, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    None of the toilets should go. What does the council want – wild weeing? It’s totally uncivilised to remove public conveniences.

    If the council had not spent our rates so unwisely on replacement bridges, wooden sculptures and other vanity projects they would be able to afford the upkeep and continued cleaning of these essential facilities.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 6, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    How on earth can the Ward Street (Old Fire Station) public toilets, premises at which nothing is sold, nor makes any kind of profit, be liable for £3,000 a year in business rates?

    Even if it is liable for such a sum, surely the rental income from the personal trainer’s business that rents the upper floor of the building, must easily cover that?

  4. Shirley West Reply

    January 6, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    This news is absolutely awful to hear. The public toilets in North Street and at Tunsgate should never be closed.

    What about the visitors coming to Guildford? North Street is always busy and Tunsgate is so busy now, following pedestrianisation. Then there is a large number of visitors to the Castle Grounds. Where will these people and children go to find public toilets?

    During lockdown, the Castle Grounds were absolutely heaving and being a member of the Castle Grounds Bowling Club I know our members get asked all the time whether visitors can use our clubhouse toilets.

    Will the council put in Portaloos in the grounds for all the overseas visitors and children in the school holidays?

    Guildford is becoming so sad. Shame on the council.

  5. Jan Messinger Reply

    January 6, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    I too think the public toilets should stay. They are only going to save a penny or two.

    We are bidding to be a city and then say we can’t afford public toilets.

    Also, remember hidden disabilities. We should be assisting people, not making life worse. We understand money has to be saved but I don’t see this as a saving. It will cost more to clear up where people have no toilet facilities. You cannot expect coffee shops, restaurants and shops to be toilet providers for all.

  6. Andrew Halliday Reply

    January 7, 2022 at 8:43 am

    The council have just spent pounds providing new hand wash dryer equipment at the Onslow Village Recreation Ground public toilets. If they are strapped for cash, why have they done this, especially if they may close in three months time? Madness.

    Onslow Village Recreation Ground is well used for youth football and other recreation and loss of the loos would increase what another respondent calls “wild weeing”.

  7. Sue Hackman Reply

    January 7, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    Who wants to shop or visit a town with few public loos? It’s just not worth the sacrifice. Quite apart from the unpleasant prospect of “wild weeing”, I’m wondering what our cash-strapped council will do with the historic buildings thus evacuated? Now let me guess…

    Sue Hackman is a spokesperson for Guildford Labour

  8. David Smith Reply

    January 7, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    To be honest, most of these toilets are filthy anyway, some of them will be no loss. I would be interested to know what the council’s strategy is once they cease to operate?

    Will it be the standard GBC strategy which is to leave to become derelict for decades like North Street?

    or

    Sell them off so that the premises can be converted to alternative uses?

    • Charlotte Gray Reply

      February 7, 2022 at 9:54 pm

      Most of them are not filthy actually, they are in fact very clean.

  9. Aubrey Michael Leahy Reply

    January 8, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    Could not help but smile at the rather clever pun in the article’s headline. Perhaps the garderobe or loo chute, that simply emptied down the side of the keep of Guildford Castle, could be brought back into service.

  10. Simon Mason Reply

    January 8, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    If the council had got their act together and adopted a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on all new development, similar to that charged by all neighbouring authorities, then this £65,000 a year to keep the toilets open would be like pocket change and the council would not even be considering closing them. GBC have continued to fail on this account.

  11. Norah Morden Reply

    January 10, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    It is absolutely essential to have enough public toilets in a town the size of Guildford visited by so many members of the public who bring money into the town. Possibly one could be closed but I have often wondered why there is not one at the Bus Station for travellers arriving and waiting for buses. Surely £65,000 could be saved from other less necessary services to finance most of the toilets.

  12. Charlotte Gray Reply

    January 10, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Public toilets are essential. You don’t go out to have a wee the way you go out for a coffee – you use a public toilet because you need to. None of these should be closed.

  13. Julie Anker Reply

    February 6, 2022 at 11:43 am

    Public toilets are a necessity, especially for women (with or without children) a discreet “al fresco” wee is simply not an option for them.

    I recently walked my dog on Ripley Green and parked by the toilets. I saw at least two people go into the toilets while I was there.

    I don’t think the council’s figures reflect the true number using them. Ripley is very popular with walkers and I’m sure the true number of users is higher.

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