Patrick Smith’s letter urging the council to look again at public toilets conveniently omits to address the issue of funding. I wonder whether he has spent time reflecting on the fact his Lib Dem colleagues in the Coalition Government have imposed the harshest cuts that local authorities have ever been subjected to?
Whilst central government departments have been expected to make savings of around 8%, local councils have been forced to take some 28% out their budgets. For Waltham Forest this has meant £65 million of savings over the last four years, with significant savings still to be found.
While we deal with the consequences of these cuts and maintain important frontline services, Mr Smith presents ideas without providing any funding proposals, or the wider financial context.
So for the benefit of your readers, here’s the numbers.
The total annual cost of providing our traditional brick built (9 costing £460K pa) and automated toilets (5 costing £373K pa) was £833K. The total cost of providing 40 Community Toilets is £35K per annum. The opening hours, the spread across the borough and increased numbers of family changing facilities and accessible toilets is also significantly higher and much improved under the Community Toilet Scheme, than our previous provision. The Community Toilets are also offer warmer, safer and cleaner facilities that are regularly checked.
Mr Smith conveniently omits to explain in his letter how he would bridge this huge disparity in funding, as well as how he would deal with the ASB traditionally associated with public toilets such as graffiti, vandalism and criminality such as drug dealing.
Oh and the final shocking part of his letter Mr Smith states that the policy to close our brick built toilets was initiated in 2010; when only Albert Crescent has been closed since 2010- the last of our brick built toilets. The majority- 6- were closed under the watch of his Lib Dem colleague Bob Belam. My question to Mr Smith is, has he really thought this through, or is he just taking the P?
Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Waltham Forest council