‘Ridiculous’ decision to close public toilets during weekend

‘Ridiculous’ decision to close public toilets during weekend

9 January 2019

IRATE ratepayers in Newcastle have taken to social media to vent their anger after public toilets at the town’s Islands Park were closed last weekend.

People were concerned the toilets were shut last Saturday afternoon with reports that similar facilities at nearby Castle Park and Donard Park were also closed.

Some people described the closure as “ridiculous” while others suggested the time has come for attendants to be employed at public toilet blocks as is the case in other resorts, including Bangor.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council — which is responsible for the toilets — has confirmed there was a problem with the flushing of the toilets at Island Park last Saturday, which resulted in them having to be closed to rectify the matter.  

A spokesman for the organisation said it acted as quickly as possible to remedy the situation, with the toilets reopened on Sunday. 

Public toilets in the resort, which are open between 8am and 4pm during the winter months, are in line for a major upgrade as part of £1.2m investment by the local authority to overhaul 31 public toilet blocks across the district to make it more convenient for people to spend a penny.

Toilets in Newcastle and Saintfield the first to be upgraded as part of the scheme.

Detailed condition surveys of the buildings is underway with the findings determining whether the existing structures can be refurbished to an appropriate standard or whether a replacement toilet is required.

Council officials are also reviewing of the local authority’s public toilet cleansing schedule to ascertain what changes may be required to ensure the facilities are maintained to an acceptable standard.

Officials said an initial review of public toilets across the district revealed that a significant capital scheme was required to upgrade them with planned improvements designed to ensure the facilities meet the needs of a wider range of people, including those living with autism.

Councillors say the poor state of some public toilets is an issue which is regularly raised with them, and that they recognise the need to upgrade public toilet provision to accommodate the needs of a wide range of people.

Some ratepayers who took to social media after the closure at the Islands Park last weekend say the cleanliness of the resort’s public conveniences can leave a lot to be desired at times.

In addition, they say council officials should provide information about alternative provision when toilets have to be closed, especially for visitors.

One woman described locked toilets as a “let down to the public” while another suggested there would be no major work on Newcastle’s conveniences until the start of the summer season.

Another resident claimed the resort’s public toilets are “closed on a regular basis,” while another said she would not let her grandchildren use them at any time.

“Newcastle should have supervised public toilets as is the case in Bangor,” said one man. “I would rather pay a few pence to use a clean toilet compared to what we currently have.” 

His post endorsed by a woman who declared: “Supervised toilets all over Newcastle is the answer. Nobody would mind paying to use an open, clean facility instead of going behind a tree.”