Friday, October 21, 2011

Cornwall Council washes its hands of Public Conveniences

I'm sorry, but it's Friday after a serious week for Parish and Nation.  A proper post on St Paul's should be on stream tomorrow, but tonight I'm stuck on the local news and Cornwall Council's latest cunning plan to save money.  The Council maintains 247 public toilets, we are told, and being no longer flush, plans to dump responsibility for 113 of them.  The precision of this figure has been achieved by the Public Conveniences Informal Working Group, which has left no stone unturned, "visiting different parts of the county" to see for themselves what toilets look like, and preparing "a document for the cabinet", which is not a piece of furniture next to the loo where reading material can be left, but a senior body of councillors whose time is never better spent than poring over the roll of Cornwall's conveniences.

The wonderful world of local government has always baffled me.  I understand that local authorities are facing vicious budget cuts which demand economies across the board, but still, how does it work?  They could probably save the cost of at least 10 toilets by just not having the "Informal Working Group" in the first place. There's also the concern about the £200,000 business rates charges that these loos incur.  This is indeed steep (and odd).  But then who are the rates paid to? That would be Cornwall Council...

Still, I suppose this is the reality of the Big Society, as noted often before on this blog.  The Council plans to palm off the toilets to its little cousins, the parish councils, who it reckons can run them more cheaply (or not at all).  How long before some bright spark launches the first "social enterprise" empowering toilet-use at grassroots level?

OK, enough of that. But Always Hope predicts the rapid return of "spending a penny" as the future of Public Conveniences nationwide.

1 comment:

Ray Barnes said...

Perhaps the county(Duchy?), could keep its full complement of necessariums if a fee of, say, 10p per p as it were, was made mandatory.
Anyone feeling 'flush' could pay a little extra and their names be placed on a bog-roll of honour.
As an extra inducement to generosity a 'bog-off' could be offered with a ticket for a free visit.
That way the loos would pay for themselves and no-one be inconvenienced.