A week ago we asked if it was time for the borough council to reopen the town’s toilets?
Despite an overwhelming yes from you – the people of Hastings – seven days on the toilets remain shut with only a vague suggestion that the council might review its decision on Monday.
Today we asked Hastings Borough Council (HBC) if there had been any movement in the council’s position towards reopening the facilities. Intially we were told: “Thank you for your email, the opening of our amenities is being reviewed regularly.”
So we probed further and asked when the next review would take place: “We are expecting a review on Monday,” we were told by the council’s communications department.
Councillor Rob Lee who leads the Conservative group on the council was clear last week that the toilets should reopen, he told us today: “There has been little comment from the council leadership over the last couple of weeks regarding the refusal to open toilets and amenities when other towns are doing so, it is the government advice to do so and the local residents are pleading with them to do it.”
The issue of opening the toilets came up last weekend after HBC launched a publicity campaign urging people not to use open spaces, parks and beaches as makeshift toilets, a statement from HBC said: “We have had reports of people using our open spaces and beaches as toilets. This is not acceptable behaviour and is not justified by the toilets being closed. Clearing up this mess takes our cleansing team away from other vital work and puts them at risk.”
One of the reports the council had received was from one of its own councillors, John Rankin, who published a photograph on social media that appeared to show human excrement floating in one of the municipal waterways on the seafront.
East Sussex County Councillor Godfrey Daniel says : “Surely it’s time to reopen the public toilets? People who live in Hastings need toilets!”
Dorothy Edwards summed up the views of many last week when she wrote on our facebook group: “Many local people are unable to go out since they need access to loos due to health needs.”
Liz Stamp said: “It doesn’t seem responsible to keep them shut… it shows the true colours of Hastings council against the local residents. I know my vote is in favour of opening”
Other commentators voiced fears that reopening toilets could lead to an increase in the spread of Covid-19.
A statement from central government at the end of May clearly put the the decision on when to reopen public toilets in the hands of local councils, a statement from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “While decisions to reopen public toilets are for councils, we strongly encourage them to open wherever possible.
“We’ve published guidance to help them ensure facilities are safe where they are open including increasing cleaning of touch points.”
We’ll check back with HBC on Monday and let you know what the decision is. Meanwhile if you’d like to email your borough councillor and let them know what you think, their addresses are on the HBC website just follow this link…