A campaign to reopen the toilets in Ashton Way car park in Keynsham, which closed more than six years ago, has been started by two local councillors – and more than 300 people have already signed the petition.
As part of a cost-cutting exercise, Bath & North East Somerset Council ceased maintaining public conveniences in the district, putting some out to contract. The Ashton Way block closed in January 2015 when new facilities became available at the One Stop Shop/Library, built as part of the Civic Centre redevelopment. Those toilets are only available during office hours.
Now Lib Dem councillors Andy Wait and Hal MacFie have started a petition to get the Ashton Way toilets reopened, saying the most common complaint they have received since becoming B&NES councillors for Keynsham more than two years ago has been about the lack of toilet facilities in the town.
They have already introduced a toilet scheme in which four town centre businesses – Temple Street Canteen, The Ship, Grounded and Café Dahlia – allow people to use their toilets for free when they’re open.
Comments on Facebook in response to the campaign include: “I really don’t understand how any town or city can just close public toilets … getting rid of toilets will play its part in killing our high streets as more people will opt to shop online.”
A local Conservative councillor pointed out that it was the Lib Dem administration at B&NES that closed the toilets and asked if it was a belated U-turn. Cllr Wait said that decision was taken before his time as a B&NES councillor, adding: “I’m more interested in sorting the problem out.”
He says that if there is enough support to get the Ashton Way site reopened, they would probably be run by the same company that runs the toilets in Memorial Park: “There is likely to be a charge. This pays for most of the running costs and reduces a lot of the anti-social behaviour.”
The need for public toilets was raised at the Keynsham town meeting in April and two weeks ago a letter writer to The Week In (Issue 688) said while the current cosmetic enhancement of the High Street might make the street more appealing, what people really want is for the public toilets in Ashton Way to reopen.
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