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Councillor's call over mothballed Darlington toilets
A DARLINGTON councillor has called for the town’s public toilets to be reopened, saying the issue is one he hears complaints about the most from local people.
Darlington Borough Council closed the toilets at the town’s Covered Market in April last year in an attempt to save £38,000 a year from its budget.
The market facilities were the last council-owned public toilets and several calls have been made in the last 18 months to see them reopened, particularly by market traders.
Councillor Bill Stenson, ward member for Mowden, said a lot of elderly people visiting the town centre struggled without access to a public toilet and that he could not understand why they had been closed in the first place.
A council spokeswoman said the authority could not afford to reopen the toilets and that other facilities were available around the town for people to use.
Councillor Stenson said: “The council should not have let our elderly people suffer like this. They are having to chase around the town looking for toilets.
“A lady said to me, ‘Why don’t they just charge 10p or 20p for using them?’ “There has to be some way of opening them and looking after them, they are essential. I’m really amazed that our toilets have had to be closed. It’s the one thing that people keep asking me about – what’s happening with the toilets?”
A previous call to reopen the toilets was led by traders in the indoor market, who argued that the toilets were vital if Darlington was going to continue welcoming visitors, particularly older people.
The market traders had also proposed a 20p entrance fee, but the idea was rejected by the council due to the costs involved.
A council spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, the council’s budget is under so much pressure that we are not in a position to fund the £38,000 a year to maintain and keep the toilets open.
“Alongside this the Council would need to find around £20,000 to reopen the toilets. With even more budget cuts around the corner, we cannot justify this expense.
“We are confident that there are sufficient public toilets close by that can be used by shoppers and other visitors.”
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