Great Yarmouth councillors vote in favour of closing public toilets to save £140,000 a year
- Credit: Archant
Car parking charges will go up and public toilets will be closed across Great Yarmouth as the council pushes ahead with cost-saving schemes.
Conservative, Labour and UKIP members of Great Yarmouth Borough Council tonight voted unanimously in favour of overhauling car parking charges.
From April 1, town centre rates will go up to 90p an hour alongside the introduction of an incentive card offering residents three hours for the price of two as well as free parking on Wednesday afternoons.
Cllr Bernard Williamson said the proposals, especially the incentive card which will be purchased online for £2.50, offered residents 'a good deal' and parking in Yarmouth would remain cheaper than in comparative town centres, such as Lowestoft.
Also agreed at tonight's Town Hall meeting was a proposal to pull funding from 12 of the borough council's 22 public toilets, saving £140,000 a year.
Toilets in North Drive and Caister Road in Great Yarmouth, Alpha Road and Brush Quay in Gorleston, Caister, Hemsby, California, Martham, Winterton, Thurne and Acle will be affected.
Councillors widely welcomed the proposal to spend the next six months working with parish councils and businesses to find alternative ways to run the facilities - but not before UKIP was accused of using the issue as a 'political football' after UKIP members of a cross party working group which, in private, had agreed the closures, voted against them at last night's meeting.
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It was also highlighted that results of a recent borough council survey suggested changes to public toilet provision was not supported by residents.
The borough council said it's transformation consultation - which asked residents to prioritise services while the authority looks to make £4.7m of savings over the next four years - 'indicated there was no clear overall public view on the option to reduce the number of blocks'.
Results, however, showed only 35 per cent of the 926 people who took part were 'willing' to allow the borough council to make changes to public toilet provision, while 47 per cent were 'not willing'. The option to 'review and reduce the number of public toilets' was the least supported out of 11 money-saving suggestions put forward.
'If you're going to consult the public, you have to listen to them,' said Cllr Colin Fox.
'If you;'re not going to listen, then don't waste money on a consultation.'
Speaking before the meeting, Yarmouth businessman Mark Allen, who runs Munchies cafe on the North Denes seafront, has voiced his concerns about plans to shut the toilets in north Yarmouth. He said would consider taking on the toilets - but had not been approached or even informed of the proposals.
'This is going to be a real problem for businesses, the nearest public toilets will now be about 20 minutes walk away,' said Mr Allen.
'There are a lot of elderly and disabled people using this end of the promenade who will now have to go elsewhere for their walks. The council should at very least leave the disabled toilet functional. I know the toilets aren't open all year around but they are well used when they are.'