Much ado about a loo - town council ‘incensed’ toilet scheme leaves them high and dry

Town councillor John Allison outside the Holt public toilets, which werebeen brought back in to use

Town councillor John Allison outside the Holt public toilets, which werebeen brought back in to use by the council and volunteers in 2010. Mr Allison and other councillors are now incensed Holt has been left out of a district council toilet improvement scheme. Picture: MATTHEW USHER - Credit: Matthew Usher

A £600,000 scheme will revamp public loos in six north Norfolk towns and villages but civic leaders in Holt are 'incensed' their loos have been bypassed.

Holt Town Council has taken aim at North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) for leaving the toilet blocks in Albert Street and Church Street out of the scheme, despite Holt's new status as a 'tourist town'.

Ray Moore, town councillor, said: 'Holt Town Council took over the Church Street toilet block when NNDC threatened it with closure as we recognised the need to have a second toilet block in the town.

'The importance of providing public conveniences is now supported by the leaders of all three groups at the district council with a recent press release stating that: 'NNDC regards the provision of public conveniences, as a key service, underpinning the district's tourism offering as well as town centre economies'.

'It is sad that this does not seem to apply to the 'tourist town' of Holt.'

The town council said in a statement it was 'incensed' at missing out on the scheme, especially because Albert Street Car Park was such a money spinner for the district.

John Allison, a fellow town councillor, said the decision was 'unbelievable'. The plans cover toilets in Sheringham, Wells-next-the-Sea, Fakenham, North Walsham, Bacton and Walcot.

But NNDC said Holt's public loos were in good nick compared to many others, and the town had plenty of places to go to the toilet anyway.

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A council spokesman said: 'We have 39 public conveniences across the district – the most in Norfolk – and they are all free of charge. The initial £600,000 we are planning to invest in the facilities is the first stage of a proposed phased programme of work.

'The facilities at Albert Street car park in Holt, compared with others elsewhere in the district, are considered to be of a good standard, and it was determined that there were other locations with greater need for investment during the first phase of works.

'Compared with other towns, Holt also has a wider range of cafes, restaurants and town centre retail businesses which provide toilets for use by customers and the public.'

Scheme gets seal of approval from loo campaigner

Meanwhile, accessible toilet campaigner Emma Spagnola, from Cromer, has praised the loo improvement plans, which will see an increase in 'changing places' facilities across the district.

Designed for people with a wide range of disabilities, changing places toilets include an adjustable-height changing benches and hoists.

Ms Spagnola, who is known as the 'Norfolk Loo Lady' and has even sat on a loo in a shop window in London's Baker Street for an entire day in the cause of toilet accessibility, said the scheme showed the council's forward-thinking approach.

She said: 'Changing places are a life-changing facility.

'Imagine having to base your everyday life around if there was a toilet available. 'It is not good enough for people to have to be placed on a dirty floor for something we take for granted - a basic human need. After all, it is the 21st century.

'Now it would be good if the rest of the Norfolk councils could follow North Norfolk District Council's lead and make all of Norfolk 'toilet accessible' to all.'