Toilet Trouble

Public toilets out in the parishes: the CBC stink continues.

You may remember how Cllr Tina Bourne, Labour’s Portfolio Holder for Public Toilets (and other bits and bobs) is keen to handover responsibility for some rural public bogs.

The reason for dropping the stink bomb?

Saving a few pennies by not spending a penny.

The public toilets in Dedham, West Mersea and Wivenhoe are at risk. Tiptree Parish Council has already agreed to take on the financial responsibility.

But wait! What’s this?

We’re now hearing that public shitters have been called in for CBC Scrutiny [pdf] on 13 January.

Keeping a close watch on public toilets is never advisable. Unless of course it is all done above board in the Grand Jury Room of Colchester Town Hall next Tuesday.

Now go and wash your hands…

For consideration for the Scrutiny Panel is:

“To approve the cessation of any future maintenance (building repairs, cleaning, opening and closing) of the public convenience at from 1st April 2015.”

Note the date…

The reason for the call in is stated as:

“The Panel is asked to consider the decision taken by the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Public Protection relating to Public Conveniences in Dedham, West Mersea and Wivenhoe and to consider the options available.

The decision has been called-in because Councillors have evidence which suggests that the Decision Taker, in this case, Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Public Protection, did not take the decision in accordance with the Principles of decision making.”

Ouch.

Who knew that public toilets could be politically so tricky?

The decision has been called in by Conservative Cllr Peter Sheane of West Mersea ward. An informal meeting has already taken place between Cllr Sheane, Cllr Bourne and the Chair of Scrutiny. The meeting on 13 January will be told the outcome of these discussions.

This whole messy business of course comes down to costings.

CBC claims that by ‘transferring the assets of community value,’ the borough council will save £27,500 per year.

Wivenhoe Town Council has been quoted a figure of £10,000 per year to manage the public bog. This will simply be passed onto the residents via the precept – the portion of the Council Tax bill set by the Town and Parish councils.

That’s when the shit will really hit the hyperlocal fan.

If no agreements can be made between Cllr Bourne and the civic folk of Dedham, Mersea and Wivenhoe, then the public toilets will simply be demolished.

CBC has quoted that this alone will cost between £6,000 – £8,000 PER TOILET.

The CBC report adds:

“Charging has been considered for all public conveniences. For this to be a viable alternative the toilets need usage figures which are unattainable for any Public Convenience outside of Colchester town centre.”

So just close them, then?

DUH.

The Call In from Cllr Sheane states that no other commercial options have been considered. Only the Town and Parish Councils have been involved in these discussions. Consultation has been minimal.

Cllr Sheasne also asks questions about police involvement and the current policy of prosecuting people who piss in the street.

Plus also using a public toilet is a HUMAN RIGHT.

Apparently.

Three options are available to Scrutiny on Tuesday:

(i) Confirm the decision made by Cllr Bounre.

(ii) Refer the decision back to Cllr Bourne. If she rejects this then it will be taken to Cabinet. The WEIRD LibLab love in that runs CBC Cabinet will simply approve.

(iii) Refer the decision back to Full Council. The WEIRD LibLab love in that runs CBC Full Council will simply approve.

The situation in downtown Wivenhoe could get interesting though.

Wivenhoe Town Council has politely considered the very kind offer made by CBC to take on the upkeep of the public toilet.

The Town Council has turned round to CBC and effectively said you scrub our urinal, we’ll scrub yours.

Nothing comes for free in Sunny Colch – not even spending a penny.

Wivenhoe Town Council is ‘negotiating’ with CBC over gaining something in return for being a public toilet servant.

CBC currently owns the Town Council office. It has long been the ambition of Wivenhoe Town Council to take control of the building that was surrendered when Wivenhoe Urban District Council was swallowed up by CBC some 40 years ago.

Wivenhoe Town Council has made an equally generous offer to CBC, suggesting that it will manage the public toilet in return for the freehold of the Town Council Office.

It’s a bit liking taking a number one, but ending up with a number two.

Keep pushing and you never know what might come out in the mix, Comrades.

We also await to see the official position taken by the two Labour Councillors for Wivenhoe Quay ward. Comrade Cllr Tina Bourne is pushing through the public toilet cuts from her lofty salaried position in the CBC Cabinet.

It’s a dirty job, etc.

Meanwhile Labour’s Cllr Cyril Liddy and Cllr Rosalind Scott have been left with their trousers down trying to defend the decision back on the Wivenhoe doorsteps.

Cllr Scott is up for re-election in Wivenhoe Quay this May…

The Blue Rinse lot over in Dedham and West Mersea have no such ideological struggles when it comes to public shitters. The Conservatives are happy to make political capital out of public toilets.

Like we said – a right old CBC stink.

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