St Neots toilets look set to reopen

THE South Street toilets in St Neots could soon be reopened next year after the town council voted to take-over financial responsibility for the facilities.

The toilets were closed by Huntingdonshire District Council – along with other HDC-owned public conveniences across the district – in April 2010 as part of cost-cutting measures at Pathfinder House.

Some –in St Ives and Huntingdon – have since been re-opened by the town councils and St Neots has budgeted to re-open the South Street toilets.

In the 2012/13 budget, revealed at Thursday’s (November 24) planning meeting, councillors agreed to set aside �55,000 to cover the cost of refurbishing the toilets and maintaining them for a year.

The annual running cost in future years is estimated to be �15,000 per annum.

Mayor of St Neots, Councillor Barry Chapman, told The Hunts Post: “We are hoping to have the South Street toilets transferred to us from Huntingdonshire District Council. It obviously wouldn’t be right for us to use public money doing them up if this process didn’t take place.

“But we would like to refurbish and reopen them before the Jubilee celebrations next year.”

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The South Street toilets were deemed to be the least effective public conveniences in the town, according to a 2009 HDC report. But with an increase in the amount of people using the town centre, particularly on a market day, the town council felt re-opening the toilets would benefit St Neots.

Chairman of the finance and general purpose committee, Councillor Andy Jennings said: “These were the original town centre toilets and very convenient for the Market Square. At a time when we are trying to encourage more people to visit St Neots we want to make sure their experience is as convenient as possible.

“We’ve put money aside in this budget so that if and when we have the toilets transferred, we are in a position to do something about it.”

However, not everyone agrees that it is the best use of public money.

Former St Neots town councillor and chairman of the Eynesbury Village Association, Steven Van De Kerkhove, said: “I think the �55,000 could be used to help the voluntary sector or reduce Council Tax for struggling families in the town. Are those toilets really needed with so many other public conveniences in the St Neots?”