Temporary toilets will be placed on Scarborough’s seafront for the summer season after borough councillors backed the plans today.
The council’s cabinet made the decision to spend £51,000 on providing the temporary toilets in Royal Albert Drive and re-opening the Holbeck Clock facilities last month but it was called in by five Conservative councillors over concerns about the funding.
Today, the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Board agreed to support the decision following a heated meeting in which Conservative councillors clashed with members of the new Labour and Independent cabinet.
Cllr Heather Phillips (Con) who lead the call-in, told the meeting that the five councillors were not against re-opening toilets but had concerns over the cost to the council and the fact that a phase two of a report in the borough’s public conveniences was due to be brought back in the coming months.
She said that residents in rural areas were, in effect, being taxed twice for toilets as many were paying a parish precept to keep their own area’s toilets open and would now also be paying for more for Scarborough out of their council tax.
Fellow signatory Cllr Phil Trumper (Con) added: “When the news of the opening of the toilet was reported in the press straight away I had a resident call me and say ‘are the ones in Danby re-opening too?'”
The council’s finance director, Nick Edwards, said there was an urgency to put toilets in Royal Albert Drive following the demolition of the former toilet block in 2017.
Mr Edwards said there had been delays in progressing a development that would provide toilets on the site that meant the council had to act.
He said: “There is a pressing need to do something in Royal Albert Drive. We need to get this in place for the summer.”
The committee heard from councillors Marion Watson and Clive Pearson that people in rural areas felt they were being punished by losing their toilets while Scarborough town was getting more.
“The reason for closing the Holbeck toilets was due to it having a small footfall and issues with anti-social behaviour, do we think that will change if we re-open it?” Cllr Pearson asked.
Mr Edwards confirmed the toilet had issues, saying “it was one the members asked me to include.”
“Whose ward are the [Holbeck] toilets in?” Responded Cllr Pearson.
He was accused by Labour cabinet member Tony Randerson of “scoring political points” as Holbeck toilets fall within the ward of council leader Cllr Steve Siddons (Lab).
Cllr Pearson added: “If I asked you to re-open Danby toilets again you’d say no, yet they are a necessity for people getting off the train and for cyclists.”
The committee also heard from Cllr Guy Smith who told his fellow councillors of reports of people “defecating in bushes” now there were no public toilets on the walk around North Bay.
Cabinet member Cllr Janet Jefferson (Ind) added that the cabinet was “listening to what the public wants”.
The Overview and Scrutiny Board voted to accept the cabinet’s decision with only Cllr Clive Pearson voting against.
Chairman Cllr Guy Coulson (Con) said: “I don’t think that be delaying any longer we will be helping people in rural areas in the long run.”