Toilets may be demolished and replaced with housing in Lewes

Low user numbers at public toilets in Western Road in Lewes are down to the public being unaware the disabled loo has reopened.

The block was closed in January 2014 but the disabled toilet has recently been reopened for use by all.

And now the district council is talking about selling off the site so the toilets can be demolished and replaced by two affordable homes.

Lewes District Council’s full council will discuss a petition which calls for reopening the toilets on Wednesday February 25 at County Hall in Lewes.

Around 1,500 people signed the petition organised by councillors Stephen Catlin and Ruth O’Keeffe, as well as Jackie Bishop, churchwarden of St Anne’s Church in Lewes.

The report to the cabinet suggests a community toilet scheme could be established in Western Road and the High Street to alleviate the current and potential future loss of the site.

Stephen Catlin said: “These toilets were closed in January 2014.

“I think it is an outrageous breach of local democracy that it is 15 months later that LDC members are being allowed to debate their future.”

Cllr Catlin said the closure of the toilets was leading to people dumping used nappies and other material along Paddock Road and by Baxter’s Field.

He said: “This casual disposal of waste has only started since the toilets were closed just over a year ago.

“Following pressure by the campaign, the District Council has re-opened the disabled facility, but not at night.”

Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe said she asked 100 people who lived in Lewes about the loos in a survey: 98 knew where the Western Road toilets were, but 76 of them thought that the toilets were closed. And 69 people said that they would use the toilets if they were open.

Cllr O’Keeffe said: “I know that the low figures for people using the disabled toilet, the only part of the toilet block which is still open, are being cited as evidence that the toilets are not really needed, but I feel strongly that the survey shows many people are not using the toilets because they think that they are closed.”

She said several of the people questioned thought they couldn’t use the disabled facilitiy because they believed it was only for disabled people.

Campaigner Jackie Bishop added: “The fact that this situation still exists a year on is extremely upsetting and distressing for those needing to use the facility.”

She asked for the loos to be open until 9pm or 10pm, for the installation of a bright light to show the loos are open and for a large sign to indicate this information.’