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Proposals to cut £3m deficit include closure of toilets

CHANGES AHEAD Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray

CHANGES AHEAD Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray

 

RESIDENTS and businesses could take over the running of car parks, allotments and public toilets in bold moves by a council to save money.

Members of Havant Borough Council brainstormed ideas at a meeting with officers and councillors from other local authorities.

Between now and 2018, the council must make up a shortfall of £3m due to a decrease in the amount of grant coming from central government, and a change in the rules as to how much they can take from the New Homes Bonus and business rates.

One idea floated at the event was to hand control of allotments to users.

Conservative councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray said: ‘We want to engage with the residents as early as possible. We’re going to stop doing some things, and do other things a different way.

‘We will out-source and maybe some things we will give to local people under the terms of the Localism Act.

‘The ultimate aim is to make the council smaller, but still efficient. For example, we control lots of allotments. But they are something that is absolutely 100 per cent community focused. We could pass this to the community to run, and they may run them better than us.’

Other ideas include closing public toilets and relying on shops to allow public use, similar to a current scheme in Portsmouth. Cutting bureaucracy in planning by only doing the minimum statutory requirements was another idea – first floated by the Tax Payers Alliance.

Councillor Mike Cheshire, of the Conservatives, said: ‘I know closing toilets has been a disaster in Portsmouth and Chichester but, working together with the community and businesses, could we do it better in a different way.’

Lone Liberal Democrat Faith Ponsonby, said: ‘There needs to be some sort of support where the council steps in if things go pear-shaped.’

And Terry Jordan, chairman of Havant Business Group, said businesses may struggle to get insurance to cover their bathrooms being used as public toilets.

Council leader Tony Briggs said in order to move forward the council and community has to be focused on ideas on how to save money.

 

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