Hundreds back appeal to see award-winning public toilets reopen
Hundreds of angry Milborne Port residents are appealing to have their award-winning public toilets re-opened.
The restrooms, situated on London Road, were closed in April by South Somerset District Council.
The toilets were one of seven council-run restrooms in South Somerset to be awarded a four-star grading by the British Toilet Association in the 2010 Loo of the Year Awards.
But now more than 450 residents have signed a petition to present to the district council to get the decision reversed.
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Community group the Spirit of Milborne Port started a campaign earlier this year and members say it has gained support of about an eighth of the village’s population of 3,000.
The group claims the village was not properly consulted before the services were removed.
Group member John Oldham, 65, of Milborne Port, said the toilets were the only public conveniences in the village. He said: “Others are situated in the town and village halls but are not always open and other businesses have reported passers-by asking to use their services instead.”
Mr Oldham said the closure has also affected passing trade in the town, as people caught short continue to drive through and do not support the local shops.
He said: “This is just another area of rural communities which is under threat. We’ve seen a decline in businesses in the village over the years.”
Mr Oldham also said outdoor events organised in the village could suffer as a result.
He said: “The whole point of the Spirit of Milborne Port group is to revive that feeling of a community hub in the area.
“By far our most popular event this year was the Jubilee weekend celebrations, we had a great response. But we don’t know how the village will be affected now that the toilets have been closed.
“We also hold a Michaelmas Market which relies on the outdoor facilities.”
A spokesman for South Somerset District Council said: “We have been looking at usage of public conveniences in South Somerset as a way to make cutbacks and save services.
“Based on a survey carried out in 2009, there has been low usage of the public conveniences, in common with other small towns in South Somerset.
“The public conveniences in Milborne Port have been closed since April.
“Before they were closed, we undertook an eight-week public consultation and during that consultation period we only received three written responses from people living beyond the parish and from local residents.
“We have liaised with the parish council and offered the toilets for transfer to them, but this offer was declined.
“This is something we have successfully done in areas such as Martock, Langport and Ilchester.”