Petition to retain public toilets that could become shops
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Parish councillors in Long Stratton have launched a community petition over controversial plans to turn public toilets into shops.
South Norfolk Council last month agreed a change of use for the current toilet block in Swan Lane that would allow it to be turned into shops, a cafe or food takeaway retaining the provision of just a single unisex loo.
The proposals had been opposed by Long Stratton, Forncett and Great Moulton parish councils while objections from villagers raised concerns that the loss of all but one public toilet could affect elderly people and families with young children.
Long Stratton Parish Council has now launched a petition calling on the district council to re-open talks on the terms and conditions to would allow the parish to adopt the toilets as a community asset, despite previously turning down taking over their upkeep.
South Norfolk Council said it had been working with town and parish councils to take over management of public toilets but Long Stratton had previously chosen not to. It said the planning permission gives it extra options in its search for a way of keeping at least part of the facility open.
The provision of public toilets is not a statutory requirement for the district council and therefore it does not receive any financial help to cover the costs of maintaining the service.
Councillor Keith Kiddie said 'While district and county authorities are limited by government in our abilities to raise local taxation, either via council tax or special expense, parish councils have no such restrictions in the amount they can raise their precepts.
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'We have therefore been working with our parish councils, across the district and all, but one, when offered the opportunity to take over the running of their local facilities accepted. The one parish council that refused our offer, twice, and after lengthy discussions and considerable time, was unfortunately Long Stratton.'
'Following the failure of those discussions we had to find another way forward and we have asked for, and received, planning permission that gives us an option that will allow us to keep a DDA compliant toilet open, while removing the cost from the taxpayers across South Norfolk.'
Toilets are also available to the public in the council's offices in Swan Lane and at Long Stratton Leisure Centre during opening hours.