A verbal report by the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Deputy Chief Executive addressed the meeting and advised that he sought a steer from Committee on taking the report forward, having tabled a similar report to the BTAC.
The BTAC report had confirmed allocation of a national funding stream of £30mil for the provision of toilet facilities for adults with severe additional needs. The facilities would be 3m x 4m with bids for £40k per unit available with a certain level of match funding. BTAC had agreed that bids for funding such facilities be taken forward. BTAC had further agreed a request for £20k to fund a thorough overview of the existing toilet provision within the town that would include charges, a review of each site and future maintenance for each site. BTAC would receive a report on the review on completion.
Members were reassured that their original rationale for the report, including information on the provision of private facilities for public use, along with the costs for the provision of consumables at the private sites would be considered under the review and the overall findings presented within the final report which would come to Scrutiny as well as to BTAC. The deadline for bids for funding had been the end of September 2021 with a report expected within 4 – 6 weeks thereafter. The Council would submit bids for all its sites however the likelihood of all being successful was doubtful and the two most probable sites would be those at the Assembly Rooms and at St. Botolph’s Church. Of the two sites’ the most preferable would be that at St. Botolph’s Church. The Deputy Chief Executive advised he had been attempting to make contact with both sites.
Member comment and questioning followed which included:
Noting that Oldrids department store had opened under another name, a Member advised that the toilet facility therein would be re-opened. The Member further advised of new facilities at the Blenkin Memorial Hall, which would include a toilet provision for use by the public.
The Chairman noted she felt uncomfortable at putting public money into private facilities’ as the Council would have no control over the facility funded including the opening hours of the site, which would not align with the facilities provided by the Council. Furthermore, the Chairman stressed concern over the current quality of the Assembly Room facility, knowing that at the time it changed hands to the new owner, it required investment in respect of new drainage / plumbing issues along with other significant repairs and upgrading. The facility remained closed since the sale of the building and it would still require repairing and the level of condition would have deteriorated further. The Council should not be expected to use public funds to make the site operable and nor should any funding received for installation of the new model facility, be used for repair works to a private building.
The Deputy Chief Executive noted that the Portfolio Holder had voiced similar concerns and he would seek the potential of extended opening hours during negotiations: the Church and the Assembly Rooms were central to the market place and their location made them ideal sites for access. The Deputy Chief Executive further advised he had considered other facilities within the town including Wide Bargate, the Bus Station and Central Park, although it appeared that Central Park was not suitable for such an extension. The review to be undertaken would include negotiation with other third party providers including Boston College and the Train Station.
Referencing the lack of existing toilets within the market place a Member voiced concern for the market traders and also for local businesses who did allow the public to use the facilities and the costs they incurred in respect of consumables, electricity and cleaning. Another member noted that the Waterfall Plaza and the Bus Station Café had put in place a key deposit system whereby 50p was required for the key, with a refund of the deposit only after the owner/manager checked the facility after use.
The Chairman concluded by thanking the Deputy Chief Executive for the update report and agreed the tabling of the final review report, in respect of the future provision of public conveniences, onto the programme of meetings.