Battle to save 12 Portsmouth public loos is lost

NOWHERE TO GO Toilets at College Park are among those earmarked for closure
NOWHERE TO GO Toilets at College Park are among those earmarked for closure
Chancellor Philip Hammond holding his red ministerial box outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget

City Labour MP slams budget for ‘failing Portsmouth’

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CAMPAIGNERS have lost their bid to save almost half of Portsmouth’s public toilets from closure.

Despite widespread opposition to the proposals, the council’s full cabinet made the decision to axe 12 of its 25 loos.

The move will help the authority save £200,000 as it can’t afford to keep spending £540,000 each year on running them all. Around 1,000 people signed paper and online petitions against the plans during a public consultation.

Councillor Eleanor Scott, cabinet member for environment and community safety, said the decision was a tough but necessary one to make.

‘Sadly these are the tough decisions that have to be made,’ she said.

‘We cannot make the savings required by government without making cuts to discretionary services – the ones we are not obliged to run.

‘We have to cut 20 per cent from our budget in the next three years.’

As previously reported in The News, the city’s Conservative group suggested the money could have been saved by getting people to pay 20p to use all of them. But the idea was refused because advice given by the British Toilet Association said charges would reduce use by up to 65 per cent and money would have to be spent on charge machines. The figures were based on loos at The Tower of London and in the Cotswolds.

June Clarkson, secretary of Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, said the move was a blow to elderly people.

‘It’s disastrous,’ she said.

‘It’s a curb on leisure and things like going for walks. People will cut their time out and about short because they’ll have to go home to use a toilet. Cuts could have been made elsewhere.’

Cllr Donna Jones, deputy conservative group leader, said: ‘This is the wrong decision and sends out the wrong message to tourists and prospective businesses and cafes wanting to move into the city.

‘The money raised from introducing 20p charges would have been £400,000, so the council wouldn’t have lost money paying for machines.’

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘We feel we have found ways of providing loos in a better way. There will be more accessible loos around the city.’

· The loos being closed are; Bransbury Park and Castle Field, Southsea; Clarke’s Road, Kingston; College Park, Copnor; Highland Road, Eastney; Hilsea Lido, Hilsea; Lower Drayton Lane, Drayton; Marsden Road, Paulsgrove; Milton Park, Milton; Paradise Street, Landport; South Parade, Southsea and White Hart Road, Old Portsmouth.