A SMALL number of businesses will allow members of the public to use their toilets as part of a new scheme.
The community toilet scheme has been launched by Wealden District Council despite opposition from Hailsham Town Council.
District council officials said it is an attempt to provide more public conveniences for residents and visitors, but the town council has previously said the scheme has no support in the community.
The district council also plans to close the town’s last public convenience in Vicarage Field in around six months time and the town council is currently in negoiations to take over the running of the facility.
The three businesses who have signed up to the new community scheme (Waitrose, Vicarage Field, Callenders, 80/82 High Street, and Freedom Leisure Centre, Vicarage Lane) will offer free toilet facilities during their normal opening hours in return for a “small payment” from the council.
The premises will display the Wealden Community Toilet scheme logo which makes it clear that members of the public can use the toilet facilities inside.
Councillor Pam Doodes said, “Businesses taking part in Community Toilet Scheme are happy to let members of the public use their facilities.
“The scheme extends the choice available for shoppers and visitors to our towns and, as staff are always on hand, they are safer and cleaner than public conveniences.
“By making a small payment to participating businesses, the council can ensure that toilet facilities are fully available during regular opening hours.”
In February 2009, when the district council consulted the town council, former Hailsham mayor and cllr Nick Ellwood, said, “Hailsham Town Council has carried out an in-depth public consultation on this issue and it demonstrated that there was no support for the Community Convenience Scheme from either the traders or the residents of Hailsham.
“Serious questions need to be raised as to why Wealden District Council is going against the wishes of our community and the business sector.”
However, Steve Saunders of the Wealden Disability Involvement Group has welcomed the scheme.
He said, “It is very helpful to have an increasing number of toilets for people with disabilities in rural areas like Wealden.
“People sometimes need to plan ahead so it is important to know where suitable facilities can be found.”
As well as the signs on participating premises, street and car park signs promote a telephone helpline – 0845 6046718 – which provides location details of all the Wealden community toilets.
Location information is also posted on local notice boards and can also be found on the Wealden District Council website, www.wealden.gov.uk, using the Online Mapping facility.
Wealden District Council is looking for more businesses to join the comunity scheme in Hailsham. Businesses should call 01892 602626, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.