Public toilets in north Norfolk 'swamped' by campervan waste

The new public toilet in Weybourne functions without water, electricity or chemicals.

Campervan users have been disposing their waste in the public toilets at Weybourne. - Credit: NNDC

Public toilets at a north Norfolk tourist hotspot have been "swamped" by waste from people using campervans, a council meeting has heard.

A review into loos managed by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) found that the situation is "acutely felt at Weybourne" and that the area is facing a summer of "blocked loos" without a dedicated waste facility.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the Environment and Quality of Life Panel, part of the council's overview and scrutiny committee, on Thursday (June 30).

The North Norfolk District Council public toilets in Lushers Passage, Sheringham. Picture: Stuart An

The North Norfolk District Council public toilets in Lushers Passage, Sheringham. Picture: Stuart Anderson - Credit: Archant

Over the past six months, the panel of two council officers and five councillors has conducted a review into public toilet facilities across the district.

They sought feedback from town and parish councils on current public toilet facilities.

According to a report prepared ahead of the meeting, feedback was "mixed and highlighted some key areas for focus".

The panel's recommendations will be brought to a full meeting of the overview and scrutiny panel on July 20 before being considered by cabinet in September.

Maxine Collis, a council officer, said the problem of campervan waste needed to be addressed urgently as more holidaymakers have been using motorhomes since the coronavirus pandemic.

She said that consultation on a bid for government levelling up funding has drawn lots of responses from the motorhome community.

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"We've been inundated with requests for motorhome waste facility," she said.

As part of its funding bid, the council is hoping to build such a facility at Runton Road.

She said it could be a pilot scheme that would at least give some provision in Cromer.

Councillor Harry Blathwayt.

Councillor Harry Blathwayt. - Credit: Archant

Councillor Harry Blathwayt said the problem was "only going to get worse" and that campervan tourists using public toilet blocks was "not pleasant for anyone".

As there is currently no dedicated facility, it's "going to be bad this summer", he added.

"We can't ignore it because it isn't going to go away."

Mr Blathwayt also said that the Broads has a system which works for the boats.

"So we're not inventing the wheel. We just need to make sure it's implemented where the campervans are," he added.

Liz Withington, from Sheringham, who is part of the Hugs group for Ukrainian refugees and their families. 

Councillor Liz Withington - Credit: Submitted

Councillor Liz Withington said there are areas of the country where they have managed to deal with the issue and that some locations in the district might be more feasible than others.

Councillor Victoria Holliday said: "If this is going to be a problem this year, and there is no provision, we're going to get a lot of loos blocked."

Dr Victoria Holliday, North Norfolk District Council Coastal ward councillor.

Dr Victoria Holliday, North Norfolk District Council Coastal ward councillor. - Credit: Dr Victoria Holliday,

The panel also heard that some toilets did not function well because of their location, while building, repairs and maintenance have suffered from current rising prices.

Another issue was people getting locked in toilets with automatically closing doors.

The report stated the panel had discussed automatic opening and closing systems as a means to reduce costs but this had been tried at North Walsham and was found to be very problematic with issues of people being locked in, as well as breakdowns and failures.

Other recommendations made by the panel included:

  • a standard design type that is flexible enough to fit most locations where a new build may be an option.
  • single self-contained cubicles which would eliminate wasted lobby areas, address equality and diversity needs and allow partial closures during quieter months.
  • new technology, advertisement and commercial opportunities at public toilets to fund servicing and maintenance and improve financial sustainability.
  • extending out of hours accessibility of disabled toilets in major tourism locations.
Vandalised public toilet in Holt

A grab rail in the accessible toilets on Albert Street in Holt was damaged in an attempt to remove it. - Credit: North Norfolk District Council

At the end of the meeting, Mr Blathwayt mentioned the possibility of "a flying squadron of moveable toilets".

He brought the idea up in the wake of crowds of birdwatchers visiting Trimingham to see the bee-eaters.

Ms Collis said the council used to have mobile toilets that would be used at showgrounds and were pulled by a truck but which needed a connection to the main sewerage system.

"It was quite expensive to have sitting on the sidelines and be used only once in a blue moon," she said.

The councillors voted unanimously to bring their recommendations to the overview and scrutiny meeting in July.