An 'embarrassment' to Shrewsbury: Charges could be brought in to improve public toilets

Charges could be introduced at Shrewsbury’s public toilets in order to fund vital refurbishments, after the leader of Shropshire Council said they were an “embarrassment” to the town.

Toilets at Quarry Park, Shrewsbury
Toilets at Quarry Park, Shrewsbury

Councillor Peter Nutting made the comments at a Shrewsbury Town Council meeting on Monday, when a report on the current state of the facilities was presented to members.

The report, by town clerk Helen Ball, identified the upper Quarry toilets as being in need of a total demolition and re-build, while the lower Quarry toilets were said to need gutting and refurbishing.

Others, in particular those in Butcher Row, have seen ongoing problems around anti-social behaviour including drug use, cottaging and vandalism.

All cubicles are fitted with sharps bins to avoid needles being discarded unsafely, and the report said some of the bins had been damaged by drug users in order to access the needles.

Councillor Nutting said: “I think Shrewsbury is a town that welcomes visitors and we all hope they enjoy their visits, but I am slightly embarrassed by the condition of some of the toilets around the town – in particular the two in the Quarry are pretty shabby.

“The last time I went to go in the gents I turned around and didn’t even enter the toilet, it was in such poor condition.

“Shrewsbury is a great town and I just think we can do so much better.”

Councillor Nutting said other toilets were also in need of attention, including those in Abbey Foregate where he said cubicle locks had been damaged, and Butcher Row which has been plagued by anti-social behaviour.

He suggested using council reserves or introducing charges to use the facilities in order to bring them up to standard.

Councillor Nutting said: “Whether we need to invest money in the toilets to make them a higher quality, a better standard, it might be that we do. We have got lots of capital in the bank and I think we may need to use it.

“I go around lots of the towns in Shropshire in my different roles and a lot of them do have toilets where you have to pay 20p to get in.

“At least you pay your 20p and get in and the toilets are usable and open.

“I don’t really want to go down that road but if that’s the only way we can make some of our toilets acceptable I think that’s what we need to do.

“I think this council really needs to consider some major investment in toilets around Shrewsbury to improve the standards.

“We want this town to get more and more visitors and I’m afraid the toilet provision in places lets us down.”

Councillor Alan Mosley, chair of the town council’s finance and general purposes committee, said Councillor Nutting should bear in mind the expression “people in glass houses”. Councillor Mosley, who also leads the Labour group on Shropshire Council, said he said he could “raise an infinite number of complaints” about the unitary authority’s services which have not been resolved.

He said there was £200,000 allocated in the council’s budget for new toilets in the Quarry but no action could be taken until Shropshire Council had made a decision about the future of the Quarry pool.

Councillor Mosley said there was also money budgeted for ongoing maintenance of public toilets where required.

He said he was not aware of any problems with the facilities in Abbey Foregate, and the toilets in Hills Lane are soon to be transferred to Ten and Six champagne bar on the condition that they continue to allow free public access.

Councillor Mosley added: “I can assure Peter that finance and general purposes will look at the excellent report that officers have provided for this meeting and decide if anything further needs to be done.”

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