Spending a Penny

There is a right stink brewing up at Colchester Borough Council – and we’re not talking about the aroma coming out of the Colne down at the Hythe, either.

Public toilets and not having a pot to piss in – it’s the perennial problem facing any public local authority that is so short on cash that it can’t even spend a penny.

CBC has approached Wivenhoe Town Council asking rather politely if they would mind ever so much in managing the CBC owned public toilet in the town.

We know that this is true for Wivenhoe because The Chronic is not unknown to take a leak in the very same loos whenever we are caught short between the boozer and heading back to base.

This *may* be the case for other public toilets around the borough. We’ve asked for clarification from Cllr Tina Bourne, the Portfolio Holder for Bogs (plus other responsibilities…)

We’re sure that the good Cllr is busy with more pressing matters than averting a Wivenhoe dirty protest. We haven’t heard back from her yet, but we’d welcome clarification in the comments below.

But anyway – about this transfer of ‘assets of community value’ from CBC down to anyone else who is foolish enough to take on the role of being a keeper of the urinal keys.

Cash is of course behind this. CBC is pretty much broke thanks to being shat on from up above by the Coalition.

You’d be hard pushed to describe public toilets as a front line service, even after five pints and crossing your legs during the journey home.

Budget cuts at CBC means bye bye bogs.

But where is the logic in this?

The sums that The Chronic has seen suggests that CBC reckons it costs £10k a year to manage the WTC public toilet alone.

We’d expect a personal arse wiper for that kind of figure.

WTC (and others around the borough) simply haven’t got that sort of money. Plus why would the volunteer Cllrs of Wivenhoe want to take on the management of a public toilet?

If the shit hits the fans then village and town councils will simply put their precept up. This is the hyperlocal amount on your CBC Council Tax bill that each village or town council can add on to cover the cost of any hyperlocal services.

Cllr Rosalind Scoot, the CBC Cllr for the Wivenhoe Quay ward told The Chronic:

“I feel public toilets are an a amenity we need to keep. They are well used and well maintained and WTC can probably make savings and use some of the precept for this amenity. The alternative will be unpleasantness in Wivenhoe Woods.”

And so in the end it is the residents that end up paying – which is no different really to CBC still managing the public toilets and saying yep, they’re gonna cost us some money and so we’ve got to put the overall Council Tax bill up.

But that would be a political decision. Someone has to take a hit for this. It’s not CBC, and it’s certainly not the Coalition sitting on the Westminster golden throne.

The irony is that Colchester town centre is actually served rather well for public toilets. You’re never more than five minutes or so away from a urinal.

Plus there’s always the pit stop opportunities that are on offer down at the Cultural Quarter (yeah, yeah. We know.)

It’s actually quite a serious matter. Close a public toilet and people will still need to take a piss. Cost-cutting then becomes an anti-social issue.

Now go and wash your hands please.