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Council spends £1m to keep toilets open
SPENDING a penny is to cost Knutsfordians almost £1million over the next 25 years after a deal was struck by the town council to take over two toilet blocks.
Knutsford town councillors agreed at a meeting on Monday, to take control of the Bexton Road and King Street car park toilet blocks currently owned by Cheshire East Council.
After agreeing to the handover from the authority, the council will then lease the toilets to Middlesex-based firm Danfo (UK) Ltd, who will then rebuild the two blocks and manage them for the next 25 years at a cost of £54,423 per year.
It will cost 20p to use the new toilets – which according to the council’s business plan will bring in £18,215 in revenue – meaning the cost to the council will be £36,208 over the term of the agreement.
The revenue estimate has been worked out from data supplied by Cheshire East.
Over the 25-year period it will cost the town council £907,450.
But if the council were to simply run and manage the toilets without renovating them, the business plan suggested it would cost almost £97,000 a year to run them – a figure similar to the one Cheshire East currently pays, according to the town council.
The council was told that Cheshire East Council would close the toilet blocks if the town council decided not to take them on.
Mayor Clr Vivien Davies said: “We’ve always been asked by the public to do something about the toilets. Cheshire East Council don’t have the finances to provide toilets in towns and it is going to fall to the town provide them instead.
“As councillors I think we have to do the best we can for the public – and tourists – in Knutsford and I propose we accept this business case and go ahead with the toilets.
Clr Andrew Malloy added a scheme with retailers could be implemented instead, while Clr Bernadette Emmett said she was concerned about the 25-year lease for the blocks.
“I’m concerned about the tendering process because a 25-year lease is extraordinary,” she added.
“I wonder if we could look at a different proposition?”
Clr Neil Forbes replied by saying the costs were much lower for a longer term lease and added it would be difficult to convince a firm to rebuild new toilets in exchange for a short term deal.
The vote almost split the council, with five voting in favour of the recommendation, three voting against and two absteining from the vote.
What do you think about the council’s deal to take over and lease the toilets? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.