Hundreds sign petition against closure of Bexhill public toilets
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Last month, Rother District Council announced a number of public toilets in Bexhill, Rye and Sedlescombe would shut from November 13 on a trial basis in order to save the authority thousands of pounds.
But since then the move has been condemned, with a petition launched by Andrew Crotty and Stephen Pariser, attracting hundreds of signatures.
Andrew said: “It’s against human rights. There is a gentleman who has put in a claim against Rother saying that this is unlawful and we will be awaiting to see what the verdict is on that one.
“We have probably got 600 signatures now on the petition from people who think this is a disgrace. Businesses are not happy that they are going to have to take the strain but the council just seems to think it’s OK because there is no end date when it says there’s a trial. A lot of the public and a lot of businesses are not happy with Rother because they just killed the town off basically.”
Stephen said: “My son is a human rights lawyer and he says I, as a disabled person, would have good grounds in starting an action in indirect disability discrimination under the Human Rights Act and if the council does not back down his firm would be prepared to take the case on on a pro bono basis. In other words, they would bankroll the action.”
An online petition against the closures has also been set up, which is at www.change.org/p/reopen-rother-district-council-public-toilets-for-human-rights.
Council bosses said they made the decision because the authority faces a £3.8 million pound shortfall in its budget for 2024/25.
It said over the last 18 months, the council has been in negotiations to see if the provision of public toilets could be devolved to town or parish councils. It said while there have been some very positive discussions, no firm decisions have been made.
Cllr Doug Oliver, council leader, said: “After years of reductions in central Government funding, rising costs and inflation, we are now looking at a £3.8m shortfall in our budget next year.
“We don’t want to close our toilets, but this is the first of many tough decisions we have to make over the coming months in order to protect our statutory services such as waste collection and support for the homeless and vulnerable.”
Cllr Oliver said that toilet facilities are aging, some buildings are no longer fit for purpose, and some have been the target of vandals, which are often costly to repair.
He added: “Contractor costs, the price of equipment and materials, and the cost of replacing damaged or worn-out items continue to increase.
“We currently have more public toilets than many authorities in the south, and unlike many other councils, we’ve been able to keep them open. However, our annual budget to provide them is now over £300,000 per year, and we can no longer maintain the service in its present form.
“We remain very much open to any firm proposals from town or parish councils, or local organisations to take over the provision of these toilets or offer alternative community schemes.”
The toilets that shut from November 13 for the winter are as follows:
Bexhill Cooden Sea Road
Bexhill Devonshire Square
Bexhill Little Common Roundabout
Bexhill Manor Gardens
Bexhill Normans Bay
Bexhill Polegrove Bowls
Little Common Recreation Ground (Made available only for sports fixtures by prior agreement)
Polegrove Grandstand (Made available only for sports fixtures by prior agreement)
Battle Mount Street
Rye Strand Quay
Rye Gun Gardens