HUNTINGDON Town Council has been given a ‘use it or lose it’ ultimatum for the public toilets in Riverside Park.

Either the council takes over the management and costs of the facilities or the owner, Huntingdonshire District Council, has said it will rip out the building's handwashing units and use them in the town's bus station loos as part of a £40,000 refurbishment plan.

The toilets have been at the centre of a year-long stale-mate since they were closed in March 2010 as part of an HDC cost-cutting scheme.

While other town councils, including St Neots and Godmanchester, have taken over the cost from HDC of providing toilets, Huntingdon has not.

Now HDC has said it will take the fittings unless the town council agrees to take over the management - a move that could cost Huntingdon taxpayers £30,000 a year.

Speaking at the town council's leisure and community services committee, Councillor Douglas Adams opposed the move, and called for HDC to re-open the toilets using its own resources.

He said: "We should be saying 'people want toilets, you provide it. It is your responsibility, you need to sort it out.' They [HDC] collect a large amount of money. How difficult is it to put toilets in order for residents in this town?

"If they can get their act together at the bus station, they should get their act together at Riverside as well. All residents in this town should ring up their district councillor and say 'not acceptable.'"

Cllr Alan MacKender-Lawrence said: "We want to reaffirm our position and stress our disapproval of ripping out usable toilets."

A spokesman for HDC said: "The Riverside toilets are not open or likely to open. The decision has been made. We are still trying to talk to the town council and they are still considering the issue.

"If they do not take them on, we are still responsible for the bus station and we will make use of the units at the bus station, but it does depend on their final decision."

A £900,000 scheme to provide a new bus station layout, toilets and a café was shelved in May last year because of costs. The current refurbishment project involves just minor repair work and will be funded by HDC. Work is due to start at the end of May.