Campaign for toilets at Old Cattle Market bus station in Ipswich continues
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Nearly 15 months after members of the Women’s Institute took to the streets of Ipswich to protest about the lack of toilets at the Old Cattle Market bus station, there is still no sign of relief for passengers.
When the new bus station was unveiled in 2013 passengers were disappointed at the lack of public toilets for those getting off a bus or waiting for their vehicle.
Increasing calls fell on deaf ears despite the fact that the bus station is used by people travelling some distance to town. There remains only one disabled toilet at the bus station, behind the shelters.
The Old Cattle Market is the terminus for buses from the countryside, many people arriving there have been on journeys for more than an hour.
The lack of facilities prompted the Women’s Institute, many of whose members use the rural buses, to launch a campaign to get facilities re-instated.
This lead to a protest march through the town in October 2015 – and a promise by Suffolk County Council which owns the bus station to re-look at the issue.
However there has still been no decision to install new toilets at the bus station – the previous toilets were closed after they were badly damaged in an arson attack in 2010.
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This week Bernadette Smith from the WI met Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport James Finch and Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere to try to press the case again.
She said: “We didn’t really get that far. Mr Finch initially said there would be no decision until after the council elections (which are due in May).
“Mr Ellesmere said the borough was prepared to maintain the toilets if they were installed but the county hasn’t made a decision on whether to install them.”
Able-bodied people can use the disabled toilet for a 20p fee – and Mr Finch said there was little demand for it.
He said: “We get an average of £4 a week from that so I don’t think there is a great demand there – and staff tell me there is rarely a queue for it.
“I have to consider whether it is worth spending anything up to £500,000 on new toilets for the bus station when there is very little demand. I shall be talking to my colleagues before making a decision.”
However Mr Ellesmere questioned the costs quoted by Mr Finch: “That seems to change depending on how much he wants to go ahead with them.
“The fact is the toilet is hidden away, it is badly lit and has been vandalised and used by drug dealers. Is it any wonder people don’t want to use it?
“We need good, well-lit toilets that people can use. We’ve offered to maintain them if the county installs them in the first place.”