A CONSULTATION has been launched into charging people to spend a penny in public toilets in Portsmouth.
As reported in The News, loos are under threat as Portsmouth City Council looks to make £17m-worth of savings next year.
And now residents are being given their chance to have their say about whether 13 of the 25 council-run conveniences should be closed.
It is also looking at the possibility of charging an entrance fee of 20p at a further two in areas frequented by tourists and visitors – at Clarence Pier and the D-Day Museum.
Charging at the Canoe Lake toilets may also be considered at a later date.
Cllr Eleanor Scott, in charge of environment and community safety, said: ‘It is part of the budget we have had to put together and we have to make some very difficult decisions, which is why we are putting them out to public consultation.
‘In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to close anything, but we will have to create a priority list of toilets and some will have to close.’
The council is also interested in working with private establishments which would be willing to allow the public to use their toilets.
Cllr Scott added: ‘I’m not going to insult anybody’s intelligence by saying that there will be instant improvements, but given time, and time is not a luxury we have much of, there will be new toilets in new developments and we want to have a new community scheme where toilets in other establishments are open to the public.
‘It’s something that’s already working in parts of London, and it works well.
‘It’s a case of getting a map of toilets that’s accessible to the public.
‘The council spends £540,000 a year on public toilets, and the bulk of that is on cleaning contracts, which is a significant sum of money for a service that’s not a statutory responsibility.
‘We want as many people to give us their opinions as forthrightly as possible.’
The council would also like to hear from anyone interested in buying or leasing existing facilities, either to keep them as public loos, or to change their use.
At last month’s meeting of the council’s ruling executive, councillors were shown forecasted budget savings for the year 2013/14 onwards.
It comes as the council looks to tackle further government cuts to local authorities.
The council forecasts a total savings requirement of £19m by 2014/15, with a further savings requirement of £27m for 2015/16.
A chunk of that will be found with an annual £200,000 saving from the ‘rationalisation of public conveniences’.
The survey on toilets is available at portsmouth.gov.uk, copies of the survey are also available in libraries, community centres or at the civic offices.
All responses must be in by January 31.
The public conveniences under consultation:
· Bransbury Park
· Castle Field
· Clarkes Road
· College Park
· Eastney Point (Eastney Esplanade)
· Highland Road
· Hilsea Lido
· Lower Drayton Lane
· Marsden Road
· Milton Park
· Paradise Street
· South Parade Kiosk
· White Hart Road