Huntingdon pub landlady calls for toilets to re-open

COMMUNITY leaders have pledged to look again at the future of a set of Huntingdon toilets after a pub landlady claimed she was being beset by non-paying customers in need of the loo.

Lesley Sadler, 55, landlady of The Sun in Hartford said 28 people used the pub’s facilities in the space of 50 minutes last week, and that she is regularly inundated with people desperate to use her convenience.

Mrs Sadler, who runs the pub with landlord Robin Glover, claims she has to buy 30 toilet rolls a week, almost double the normal number and that the pub’s water bills have rocketed from �8 a week to �12 a week, in recent weeks.

The problem began last March when Huntingdonshire District Council closed the Riverside Park toilets, along with other public conveniences in St Ives, St Neots and Godmanchester, in line with cut-backs.

While other town councils, have taken over the cost of providing toilets from HDC, Huntingdon has not.

Last month, HDC said it would take the fittings from the Riverside toilets for use at the bus station unless the town council agrees to take over the management – a move that could cost Huntingdon taxpayers �17,000 a year.

HDC want to rip out the building’s handwashing units and use them in the town’s bus station toilets as part of a �40,000 refurbishment.

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Despite the threat, town councillors remained adamant they will not back down. Town clerk Karen Cameron defended the town council’s decision not to take over responsibility for the loos.

She said: “From our point of view, it is irrelevant that other town councils have taken over the toilets. Our councillors decided it was not the best thing for the town.

“We do have plans to provide public toilets in the Town Hall eventually. Riverside Park toilets being in a park run by HDC with a car park with income generated for HDC, we did not want to be responsible for them.”

HDC chairman Jeff Dutton said he would urge the current leader of the district council Ian Bates, and his successor Jason Ablewhite, to look again at the issue.

He used funds from his council allowance to open the toilets for Huntingdon’s St George’s Day celebrations on Saturday.

Cllr Dutton said: “It is not a statutory obligation to keep toilets open. It is just a nice-to-do-thing. We are in tight times at the moment, whichever way you look at it.

“I understand Cllr Ablewhite might be able to look at this again, but I cannot guarantee anything at this stage of the games.

“I understand what Mrs Sadler is going through. All I can say to her is wait for a bit longer and we will see what we come up with.”

Mrs Sadler said: “I just need the toilets re-opened. It has just got to happen. It is just so unfair.”