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Vandalism in public toilets worsens

PUBLISHED: 10:27 26 September 2008 | UPDATED: 09:09 13 July 2010

Yobs have caused £18,000 in damage to public toilets in north Norfolk in just five months - and local council tax payers will end up footing the bill.

The vandalism, which ranges from loosened taps and broken toilet seats to a fire in the High Street loos in Stalham, is a yearly problem.

Yobs have caused £18,000 in damage to public toilets in north Norfolk in just five months - and local council tax payers will end up footing the bill.

The vandalism, which ranges from loosened taps and broken toilet seats to a fire in the High Street loos in Stalham, is a yearly problem.

Each year North Norfolk District Council spends about £8,000 cleaning and fixing public toilets across the area but this year's bill has already far exceeded that.

Since April this year, the majority of the council-owned toilets, including the new ones in Sea Palling and at Cromer's tourist information centre, have been the victims of vandals.

So far the council has had to spend £8,500, including £1,115 fixing up facilities in Cromer, £758 in Sheringham and £750 in Hoveton, as well as a separate bill of £9,500 to clear up and redecorate after the fire in Stalham - and only some of that is covered by insurance.

The rest comes out of the council's maintenance department budget which means it is ultimately local residents who end up paying.

Peter Moore, cabinet member for resources, said he found the problem frustrating. He said: “A lot of these fittings cost quite a lot of money. It's a considerable burden on the rest of us. I was so annoyed when the new ones were vandalised within a couple of weeks. It's awful.”

But he said he refused to let the vandals win. Mr Moore said: “You can understand why some councils just give up. You are fighting a losing battle. But I'm not that sort of person - the more difficult it gets the more determined I get.”

The councillor said while the use of CCTV was not an option, the district council was working on ways to make public toilets vandal-proof.

He said: “We are trying to get them harder to hit. It won't stop people completely but it might help. You can make it so it's not so easy to destroy, you can stop using plastic so they can't burn it.”

At a meeting last week, councillors agreed they should also contact police to discuss how they could help stop the yobs.

But Mr Moore's vandalism woes do not end with toilets. He said he had just discovered three parking ticket machines in Runton, Sheringham and Wells had been targeted last week after yobs drilled holes into the machines to steal money from them.

Mr Moore said: “It's not so much losing the money in them, it costs at least £500 to repair each one. You get three or four of those and you might as well give up.”

He said he was looking into introducing cashless machines instead but acknowledged that might not be a popular solution.


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