Tory criticised over public loo leaflet blunder

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A TORY councillor standing for election has admitted a leaflet celebrating how he helped reopen a public toilet is wrong.

Flyers have been sent out saying Cosham councillor Lee Mason helped to bring back loos in Wootton Street at the back of the High Street.

Cosham’s Labour Party candidate Graham Heaney

A picture is also included of the toilets with the caption ‘reopened!’ along the top.

But in fact it was never part of the programme by the previous Lib Dem administration to close toilets across the city in 2013.

When asked about the leaflet by The News, Cllr Mason said there was an error when leaflets went to print and they should have said he and his Tory colleagues had helped ‘save’ the toilets from closure.

He said the Wootton Street loos had been identified by council officers last summer as ones that could be axed in future given there are other places nearby the public can go – but the idea was thrown out.

Cllr Mason, who is defending his seat on May 7 at Portsmouth’s local elections, said: ‘The toilets were not closed.

‘They were at threat of closure and were on the list regarding the next round of savings.

‘The leaflet should have said they had been saved.

‘When it went to print, it said reopened.

‘We had sent out other leaflets across the city talking about how we had reopened toilets in other places so it was just a mistake.

‘It was not an attempt to misinform people.

‘They were at threat of closure because of council officers looking to make cuts.

‘The message is true – we have reopened toilets and saved that one from being shut.’

But Cosham’s Labour Party candidate, Graham Heaney, said he was sceptical about Cllr Mason’s reasoning and said there was ‘no excuse’ for not checking the information sent to voters.

‘When you look at the report from June 2014 regarding the review of toilets, there is no mention of any future list of closures,’ he said.

‘It just refers to the toilets that had closed and the need to refurbish ones on the current list. So I am sceptical. It’s very misleading to put out information like that and there is no excuse for it.’

The Lib Dems axed 12 of the city’s 25 toilets when they were in power to save money – but the Tories then found the cash to bring unisex loos back into use in Paulsgrove, Hilsea and Old Portsmouth.

A business has also reopened a public toilet in Drayton.