Tourism industry 'could suffer' if toilet staff lose jobs
PUBLISHED: 12:31 13 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:48 16 July 2012
PUBLIC toilets could become blocked and vandalised if the council presses ahead with plans to make attendants redundant, it is claimed.
Bosses want to reduce the £600,000 toilets budget, but tourism chiefs have warned that this could be false economy if it puts visitors off holidaying in Great Yarmouth.
Up to four of the borough’s seven toilet attendants face redundancy under a raft of measures that will see loos stay open for longer, and maintained by mobile cleaning services rather than permanent staff.
Attendants claim there are actually nine workers affected, but nobody at GYB Services was available to clarify the figures in the council report.
Under the plans, full-time attendants at Market Gates, The Conge and Yarmouth Seafront loos will be axed as soon as September this year.
And attendants are worried that standards will drop if nobody is on site - with people able to get away with vandalism.
Toilet attendants say they first learned their jobs were under threat when they read the story in the Mercury last month.
They say a “hurried meeting” was then held at the GYB Services depot to apologise, but staff say they are worried plans have not been thought through.
Loraine De-Mott, 62, who has worked at Gorleston’s Pier toilets for 14 years, said: “This will make Yarmouth and Gorleston the laughing stock of the tourist industry.
“I’m not very pleased about it but it’s not just my job - I’m thinking of the people who come here as well. A lot of effort goes into making sure the loos are spotless and I work hard. You get people urinating on the seat then people won’t go in there, and they get blocked up too. People don’t realise how busy it gets.”
She said colleagues in the mobile cleaning services do not know how they will be able to keep all of the toilets up to scratch - working out of just two vans to clean loos as far apart as Martham and Gorleston.
Mrs De-Mott and her colleagues are challenging the decision through their trades union, Unite, and have more than 450 signatures on a petition to save jobs.
Ken Sims, chairman of Great Yarmouth Tourist Authority, said he was concerned by the move.
“The tourism industry is so very important to the borough of Great Yarmouth and customer care is such an important part of the tourism industry,” he said.
“Any reductions in staff are to be regretted, however in the economic world that we live in I can understand how these services have to be looked at.
“I think only time will tell if it’s a false economy.”
The borough currently spends £261,000 per year on staff for public toilets, and hopes to reduce this while keeping Market Gates, The Conge and Yarmouth Seafront loos open until 7pm all year round, and 10pm in the summer at the seafront.
Michael Jeal, cabinet member for tourism, said: “As far as I’m concerned this extends the time people can use the toilets when they’re getting off the bus at Market Gates. If there’s a lot of vandalism happening we will have to review it.”
Council leader Trevor Wainwright added there may be redeployment opportunities for affected staff, and there would be a close eye kept on cleanliness.
“It will be reviewed after 12 months, but if reports start coming back to the council that there’s been deterioration of standards we can do something a lot quicker,” he said.