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Refurbishment go-ahead ends uncertain future of town's toilets

PUBLISHED: 16:51 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:51 21 March 2019

The fate of the public toilets at Diss Mere Mouth had promoted a public outcry. Picture: Simon Parkin

The fate of the public toilets at Diss Mere Mouth had promoted a public outcry. Picture: Simon Parkin

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The uncertain future of a Norfolk town's public toilets has finally been resolved with it set to be refurbished after being saved following a public outcry.

Ownership and management of Mere Mouth toilets will transfer from South Norfolk Council to Diss Town Council. Picture: Simon ParkinOwnership and management of Mere Mouth toilets will transfer from South Norfolk Council to Diss Town Council. Picture: Simon Parkin

The long-running saga over the Mere Mouth toilet block in Diss had seen it threatened with demolition and involved in a protracted wrangle between town and district councils.

Proposals to pull down the toilet facilities had sparked an outcry and seen hundreds of people and more than 40 town centre businesses sign a petition to keep them open.

Now a revised management agreement has finally been agreed between Diss and South Norfolk Council, including the go-ahead for its much needed refurbishment, with a meeting of the town council voting unanimously for it to be approved.

The public toilets at Diss Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Simon ParkinThe public toilets at Diss Mere Mouth are to be renovated. Picture: Simon Parkin

Town Mayor Trevor Wenman said: “It has taken a while getting here. A year ago we were in a situation where it seemed like virtually the only option was for the toilets to be demolished and start all over again.

“The people of Diss make very clear that should not be the case and working together with the district council we have found a solution to the problem.”

Managed by South Norfolk - which is under no obligation to provide public toilet facilities - ownership of the toilets had been due to transfer to Diss Town Council back in March 2018, following an £80,000 refurbishment. However a structural survey found serious problems with the foundations leading the district to decide refurbishing would be uneconomical.

The public toilets at Diss Mere Mouth had been threatened with demolition but much needed refurbishment will now go ahead. Picture: Simon ParkinThe public toilets at Diss Mere Mouth had been threatened with demolition but much needed refurbishment will now go ahead. Picture: Simon Parkin

But last July the threat of demolition was removed when South Norfolk announced it would refurbish the toilets after all “having listened to the residents of Diss”.

The new deal will see refurbishment begin soon with the toilets closed while work is undertaken before ownership and management then transfers to Diss.

Mr Wenman said: “It is not a straightforward lease or straightforward transfer of property, which is why it has taken somewhat longer to sort out. It was frustrating for all of us because it was a more difficult thing to do than we thought.

Birgritte Mager, of Diss Publishing Bookshop, launched a petition to save the toilets from demolition. Picture: Sabrina JohnsonBirgritte Mager, of Diss Publishing Bookshop, launched a petition to save the toilets from demolition. Picture: Sabrina Johnson

“We believe we have got the best deal with Diss and we can be absolutely confident that the toilets when they have been refurbished by the district council will be in as good a condition as they can be and we can take over the management of them as we intended to do all along.”

Town councillor Julian Mason said: “The reason that this has been so drawn out is because we wanted to make absolutely certain that we got the best deal for Diss and that the town was not lumbered with a dilapidated building at the cost of our rate payers.”

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