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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Loo demolition ‘premature’

THE controversial decision to demolish Whitehaven’s only public toilet block has been branded “premature” by councillors, who claim that alternative plans could be made to save it if a new town council is formed.

cejamesloos1110
Toilets: Closed due to the cuts

Councillors at Copeland’s planning panel last week fiercely debated the proposals to demolish the toilets block on James Street – five voted for the demolition and five voted against.

The casting vote was made by the chair, Geoff Blackwell, who agreed the recommendation.

He said: “We all have strong feelings but we are here as a planning committee, and unfortunately that is all we are allowed to look at in terms of legislation and law. That’s difficult at times – very difficult.”

Prior to the decision being made, Stephen Haraldsen said: “It’s a little bit premature for the council to come forward to demolish the building, considering in the next 12 to 15 months we may have a parish or town council for Whitehaven.

“The issue is that we have seen other parishes successfully run toilets.”

Alan Jacob said that Gosforth Parish Council successfully runs a public toilet and agreed with Coun Haraldsen that alternative options could be looked at if a town council is formed in Whitehaven.

Gilbert Scurrah said if it was given planning permission in 1993, there was obviously a need for them. He asked whether the toilet block was used before it was closed.

John Jackson said the community was “gutted” when the public toilets closed and said that if the toilets had not closed, the planning panel would not be discussing its demolition.

Councillors were told that they must only deal with planning issues and that permission is required for the site as it falls within a conservation area.

Two letters of objection to the demolition were received by the council.

Copeland Council closed the facility, amid public outcry, as part of a raft of budget cuts. A 2,000-signature petition submitted to Copeland failed to overturn the decision.

Last week, planners were told that there is no chance that the building will be reopened and the closed building is still costing the council money in maintenance and rates.

Its removal will open up views and enhance the area, councillors were also told.

The land vacated by the toilets will be restored to a hard surface to match the surrounding paving, and will not form part of a highways improvement scheme.

The Whitehaven News understands there may be a possibility in the future of public toilets being opened in the Whitehaven Market Hall.

The public drop-in sessions, at which a survey can be completed and questions asked about a possible new town council for Whitehaven, continue this week at Richmond Pensioners Club today (Thursday) from 10am to 1pm, and at Greenbank Community Centre on Wednesday, February 5 (2pm to 5pm).

The survey is also available at www.copeland.gov.uk, and at Copeland’s office and libraries.

Any groups who wish to have a meeting with Copeland are asked to email tim.capper@copeland.gov.uk or call 01946 598526.

The first round of the consultation ends on February 25, and if the support is there, a second consultation – including more concrete proposals such as boundaries, number of councillors and cost – will begin.

Have your say

Surely knocking the Civic Hall down will save more money than knocking the toilets down.

Posted by Bob on 31 January 2014 at 18:54

As mentioned in my letter Whi News(30Jan)
the proposed Whitehaven toilet demolition is a criminal waste of our public funds. Can anyone advise why the Copeland Community Fund or the Neighbourhood Forum purses can not be used, temporarily, until financial situation resolved. I believe CBC Leader plus some local County Councillors control who the massive nuclear pot of cash ( £10 million I think, topped up annually) is given to - but I would have thought a clue is in the name - Community Fund? Are not public toilets for the community and it's guests not a worthy cause?

Posted by Rob Romano on 31 January 2014 at 16:21

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