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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Shops are asked to open loos

A CALL has gone out for shops and businesses in Whitehaven to open up their toilet facilities to the general public.

CERUMSIGN
at your convenience: The sign in the Rum Story window

It comes in the wake of the closure of the public toilets in James Street, which has caused a widespread outcry.

A pilot scheme for the month of September would see willing businesses display a sticker sign in their windows to let people know they can use the lavatories at those premises.

The Rum Story on Lowther Street has got the scheme under way by displaying a smiley-face sticker. Now members of Whitehaven’s Town Team have been asked to promote the idea to those they represent.

On Monday, the Whitehaven Chamber of Trade is expected to have the issue on their agenda for discussion.

Celia MacKenzie, at the Rum Story, says: “We know people are angry about the closure of the public toilets and the council has made it clear there is no chance of them re-opening.

“We thought it might be a way forward if town centre businesses could consider opening up their toilets for people to use. Usually they are just for customers.

“We have opened our toilets here at the Rum Story and are asking for a small donation in a charity tin for Deep Sea Fishermen. It’s for a trial period and we’ll see how it goes. If it is abused or we find that it costs us too much then we won’t be able to do it. Or it may be that we just do it during the summer months – we’re not sure yet. It’s early days.’’

Mrs MacKenzie, a member of the Town Team, says she understands that it is not always feasible for some businesses, either for security reasons or the layout of the premises, to let the public in, but asks, where possible, that shops and cafes consider giving it a try for a trial period and then reviewing the situation in October.

“If just a dozen people decide to try it, it could make a difference,’’ she says.

“I know people have many reasons why they cannot to make their toilets available to the public, but the positive side is they would be engendering some goodwill, among both local people and visitors, and increasing the footfall into their business premises which may in turn have a beneficial effect in increased sales.’’

Although the James Street public loos are now shut, people can use facilities in the reception area at Copeland Council’s Catherine Street offices, when it is open. There are toilets at The Beacon but because they are accessed via the Harbour Gallery, which houses a paid-for Ice Age and dinosaur exhibition they are currently unavailable. However, those with a disability or who are pregnant are allowed through. At the Wellington cafe at the Beacon, the public are welcome to use their toilets provided they make a charitable doantion.

A public petition with around 2,000 names to have the public toilets in the market re-opened failed last week and the council now says that unless someone can be found fairly soon to take them over they will be demolished, because keeping them, whether open or closed, is costing money.

Have your say

This is one more reason to stop at Tesco and go nowhere else in Whitehaven, which is a shame because it's a fine place. The supermarket has free parking, toilets and a petrol station and doubtless it employs a lot of local people. In contrast, your council has similar council tax to other areas but shuts down the basic things which everyone needs. 'Lions led by donkeys' is what historians have called the troops of the First World War, but it fits the situation of West Cumbrians too.

Posted by John on 14 September 2013 at 23:02

If CBC were a business it would have been put into Administration long ago. The Leader and Councillors would have been banned from running any Other Business, I would really like someone to provide a breakdown of how much money these Councillors over the years have spent, squandered or just plain lost. It must be an awful lot of money.

Posted by tony stephenson on 12 September 2013 at 16:51

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