CITY leaders have been told it would cost too much money to save public toilets through a 20p ‘pay-as-you-go’ charge.
As previously reported in The News, the council is considering closing 13 of its 25 loos in Portsmouth because it needs to save £200,000 and spend money in other areas.
The city’s Conservative group has suggested the cash could be recouped by keeping them all open and charging everyone a small fee – for example 20p – instead.
But Councillor Eleanor Scott has issued a statement to council members saying the idea would mean fewer visitors and a huge cost to set the scheme up.
It said funding would be required to install charging machines and the ones proposed for loos on the seafront would cost an estimated £25,000 each.
Installing a machine at Hilsea Lido’s toilets would cost £20,000.
And she says research indicates that if charges were introduced there then at least half of the 75,000 people that use them would stop going and cleaning costs wouldn’t therefore go down.
Cllr Scott, who is cabinet member for environment and community safety, said advice from the British Toilet Association website indicated that introducing charges would reduce overall use of loos by up to 65 per cent.
She said: ‘Like it says in the document, we can’t find these charge mechanisms without attracting a cost, and the cost is so much more than we are making.’
In response to the Tory group’s petition against the closures, which attracted around 1,000 signatures, Cllr Scott said: ‘It’s just been a silly petition.
‘We just haven’t got the money.
Her statement added that money machines would be difficult to build at smaller loos and could result in expensive building work being carried out to accommodate them.
‘We are trying to work out alternatives and ways where people can use toilets in other parts of their communities such as in community offices, centres and libraries,’ Cllr Scott said.
‘It’s a shame that we can’t raise enough income.’
Cllr Scott added: ‘You can’t charge people to use Victorian toilets.’
Cllr Donna Jones, deputy Conservative group leader, said: ‘I totally disagree with this conclusion.
‘We estimate raising £460,000 from charging 20p per visit.
The saving required by the Lib Dems from closing the toilets is £200,000.
‘Therefore there is lots of room for fewer users and increased costs to still make this scheme viable.’
The move has not entirely ruled been out and it will be included in a report going before council members on March 4.
The council is proposing to close public loos at Bransbury Park, Castle Field, Southsea, Clarke’s Road, Kingston, College Park, Copnor, Eastney Point, Eastney, Highland Road, Eastney, Hilsea Lido, Hilsea, Lower Drayton Lane, Drayton and Marsden Road, Paulsgrove, Milton Park, Milton, Paradise Street, Landport, South Parade, Southsea and White Hart Road, Old Portsmouth.