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Trader calling for Penzance town centre toilets to reopen

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: September 21, 2013

Comments (2)

THE closure of town centre toilets has left a Penzance trader at the end of his tether.

Steve Watson owns The Carpet Shop next door to the Jennings Street public toilets, and says countless people are still trying to use them, four months after they closed.

At best, frustrated pedestrians have to walk several hundred yards to the toilets at St John's Hall or the tourism office at the station – but all too often relieve themselves against the wall of his premises.

The toilets closed in May as Cornwall Council sought to cut its expenditure on public conveniences from £3 million to £1.5 million a year, but Mr Watson says a large number of people think the toilets next to his business are still open.

"In one four-hour period, we counted 91 people coming down the street to use the toilets," he said.

Mr Watson says he has been in touch with the council on numerous occasions, but the situation remains unchanged.

He says he can't understand why the toilets in the middle of the town were chosen for closure when those at St John's Hall and South Pier remain open.

"I've been to both these toilets and logged how often they are used, and they don't get anywhere near the same amount of use that Jennings Street was getting. Surely it would have been a better decision to keep open the toilets in the centre of the town?"

As far as the area being despoiled, Mr Watson says there is an ongoing problem with people relieving themselves – five alone in one morning last week while it is not unknown to find faeces near his premises.

A spokesman for Cornwall Council said that a new scheme which is used elsewhere in the country may be the way forward.

"At the end of June 2013 more than 100 toilets throughout Cornwall are now being run by local councils and community groups," a spokesman said.

"As part of this process the Council has invested £1.2 million in refurbishing the toilets which have been handed over and has allocated more than £600,000 to help with the running costs.

"In a similar scheme run in many areas of the country, the council is also looking to set up a Community Toilet Scheme which would see local businesses such as pubs, restaurants and cafés open their facilities to members of the public.

"While the facilities in the centre of Penzance have closed, there are alternative facilities around 350 metres away at Penhalverne Car Park as well as at Penzance Tourist Information Office, South Pier, Wherrytown, the Princess May Recreation Ground and Alexandra Playing Fields."

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  • Treb2013  |  September 23 2013, 9:58AM

    Jennings Street toilets. I totally agree with Steve Watson's [The Carpet Shop] request for the Jennings Street toilets to be reopened, and urgently. I have written on several occasions to both Cornwall Council and Penzance Town Council regarding public toilet closures. Cornwall Council have always replied to my emails with information available at that time [albeit not what I wanted to hear!], whereas Penzance Town Council have not once even given me the courtesy of acknowledging my emails. It is important to have public toilets available in the town centre, not just around the perimetre. It is one step too many to expect local businesses to open up their doors to provide toilet facilities to members of the public. With certain members of the public using the streets as toilets how long will it be before we see hoards of rats inhabiting the streets?

  • josdave  |  September 22 2013, 12:02PM

    This is how Cornwall Council "works" -1. Give planning permission to any supermarket that asks for it with free parking and toilets -2. Make it expensive, with parking charges and high business rates, for local traders to do business and 3. Close public toilets to make sure as few people as possible use the town centre. Then they bemoan the fact that our town centres are dying. You couldn't make it up.

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