St Ives Town Council say it costs £135,000 a year to run the toilets in the Cornish town and believe visitors should help pick up the bill as locals are invited to apply for free passes
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A council have defended plans to charge tourists to use the town’s public toilets while letting locals in for free.
Visitors will now have to pay if they want to spend a penny at popular surfing hot-spot St Ives, Cornwall.
The controversial plan will see residents forced to apply for pre-payment card to access the facilities for free, CornwallLive reports.
The idea has been slammed with businesses concerned tourists could be put off from coming.
St Ives Town Council owns eight public toilets around the west the county, including one which it lets out to a private operator – and all restrooms in the area have been free to use for years.
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But the council says it costs the local authority a fortune to run with water, maintenance and cleaning bills running at around £135,000 every year.
This, they say, includes cleaning, utilities and maintenance but excludes the labour costs of our staff in carrying out repairs.
They are open from dawn until dusk and in high season they need to be cleaned five times a day.
Town clerk Louise Dwelly said: “Many councils across the country are closing their public toilets because of the huge cost.
“But we understand the importance of public toilets to our visitor economy and this is not an option in a seaside town with beaches.
“Many councils in Cornwall including Penzance, Looe, Newquay, Falmouth, St Mawes, Boscastle have introduced charging to help pay these costs.”
So from this summer, to use the facilities people will have to pay and to ensure it is fair to locals who already pay over the odds for water, council tax and precept to keep these services running, going for a wee will be free.
Mrs Dwelly added: “Local residents already pay for all these costs through their council tax and we don’t want them to pay twice.
“Toilet charging is more straightforward following the pandemic when the vast majority of people have become very use to cashless transactions. There will be no cash/coin options but people can use their smart phone, bank card or purchase a pre payment card.
“This means that facilities will be safer and less prone to theft and vandalism than if there was cash on site.
“If and when the scheme is rolled out across all the facilities in 2023-24, residents will be able to apply for a pre-payment card to access the facilities for free. This is a way in which the 550,000 day visitors and 220,000 staying visitors can contribute to the town’s running costs.”
She said that under the scheme only those with a primary residence in the town who pay their council tax in St Ives will get to use the toilets for free.