SPENDING a penny might become reality in the Suffolk Coastal area – with the public the loo-sers.For councillors are considering introducing charges for the first time in public toilets in a bid to relieve pressure on tax bills.
SPENDING a penny might become reality in the Suffolk Coastal area – with the public the loo-sers.
For councillors are considering introducing charges for the first time in public toilets in a bid to relieve pressure on tax bills.
But while no-one is speculating on how much it could cost to use a lavatory, it is likely to be more than the penny in the old phrase and people will be faced with paying up or keeping their legs crossed until they get home.
Leaders of the council – which operates toilets in Felixstowe and Woodbridge – are faced with having to save £1 million from their budget next year and say they need to slash the annual £400,000 cost of running the loos.
They may consider once again cutting the number of toilets – there was uproar six years ago when they proposed halving the number in Felixstowe – but accept this is a "sensitive proposal".
In a report, John Hammond, chairman of the authority's non-priorities research group, set up to see how less important services could be pruned, said a number of ideas were looked at concerning the district's toilets.
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The main concern was the £40,000 business rates the council has to pay each year and government would be lobbied over this.
Another idea was to sell advertising space on the buildings with money raised put towards maintenance.
He said it had also been suggested fees to enter should be levied, and talks should take place with town and parish councils to find ways of keeping loos which are little used but important to an area.
"There are concerns about the costs of implementing a charging regime and the fact that it might lead to damage to property from attempted theft of monies," said Mr Hammond.
Many councils do charge to enter toilets – usually 20p – with the coin activating a door lock or barrier.
People paying expect a higher standard of facilities and cleanliness. The cost of putting in locks and barriers can also be expensive, and extra staff are often needed to empty cash machines.
Traders and councillors in Felixstowe were horrified last time proposals were made to cut the number of toilets and have been calling for improvements to facilities and more to be provided as they are a key feature for visitors.
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