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Spending more than just a penny
12:54pm Friday 14th September 2012 in Local news
A multi-thousand pound scheme to revamp vandal-plagued toilets in Otley has been approved by the town council – but criticised by some as a waste of money.
The Orchard Gate facilities, leased to the council, were expected to make money for the town after receiving a £25,000 refurbishment in 2009.
But full-height turnstiles, inte-nded to stop vandals and people entering without paying, could not be installed as planned, and the conveniences have continued to be regularly damaged, at great cost to the local authority.
Monday’s meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee agreed to pursue a new revamp that will:
- fully upgrade the toilets, possibly incorporating solar panels
- make them fully staffed, like Ilkley’s, with someone always in attendance
- re-introduce charges to offset the staff costs.
Town council leader, Coun-cillor John Eveleigh (Lab, Ashfield), said the project would solve a long-running problem and give the town conveniences to be proud of.
Coun Eveleigh said: “We know we have got to do something with the toilets, since the previous council saddled us with a long lease with virtually no income because of the persistent vandalism.
“In addition to those problems, we are getting frequent complaints about the state of the toilets, so we have to do something.
“The proposed work will do a number of things – it will ensure the main public conveniences in the town are fit for purpose, for residents and visitors, and ensure the council is not throwing good money after bad.”
But Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) claims the scheme, which could cost about £78,000, is unnecessary and will mean “spending money we don’t have”.
He said: “The Labour group wishes to spend £78,000 on refurbishing the rented toilets in Orchard Gate and explore staffing to sit there and take money.
“This is in spite of there only being seven years left on the lease. A Public Works Loan Board loan is estimated to cost the council £12,500 per annum during that seven-year period. I am yet to be convinced this is a good use of public money.”
The council plans to hold a short public consultation to gauge feedback, before inviting tenders for the work.
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