Parish councils offered public loos by cash-strapped Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Great Yarmouth borough council is offering parish councils first refusal on toilets across the borou

Great Yarmouth borough council is offering parish councils first refusal on toilets across the borough. - Credit: Archant

Parish councils are being offered 'first refusal' on a bid to off-load ownership and control of a clutch of public toilets.

A working party has been formed to look at provision across all of the Great Yarmouth borough's 22 toilets as the council battles to trim back the 'unsustainable' £509,000 it already spends on keeping them open.

There are nine borough council-run toilets in six villages in the affected northern parishes, costing £36,000 a year to run.

But the bid is causing friction between the two layers of local government, with some parish councils saying they were only given 10 days to come up with an initial response.

Tony Overill, chairman at Caister Parish Council, said the council had a moral obligation to maintain the important facilities.

'It is just another way to get rid of a burden they cannot afford. I am absolutely fed up.

'If these toilets were in Yarmouth they would be kept open. They are trying to drop out of everything because they have no money whatsoever. They will not provide maintenance for pathways, footpaths and bridleways.

Most Read

'This is another way to reduce the budget for the town. We are not going to take them on and if they close them we will lay any problems directly at the borough council's door.'

Meanwhile, Geoff Freeman, of Ormesby with Scratby Parish Council whose parish faces taking control of two blocks in Scratby and California, said it was 'quite a big undertaking' and not something the council would impose on precept-paying villagers lightly.

He said there was a lot to consider with supplies, maintenance, opening and closing, cleaning, insurance and much more. The council hoped to give the borough a response by Wednesday, when the working party next meets to make its recommendations.

A borough council spokesman said it was a very wide-ranging review and that the council was offering the option to parish councils as a 'first stage'.

'They might say they don't need these toilets and the buildings could be converted. There are other options. It is all speculation at this stage.

'This review is part of wider work to ensure the authority spends within its means, while protecting or improving key frontline services.'

Bernard Williamson, portfolio holder for transformation, said the aim overall was to improve the toilet offer which could mean closing some low-use 'pointless' ones.

The borough council says many parish councils across the UK, including Hemsby, already successfully own and operate public toilets. Only the northern parish councils have been invited to express an interest as there are no borough council-run public toilets in the southern parishes.