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City leaders back York public toilets improvement scheme
A £663,000 scheme to improve York’s public toilets in time for the Tour de France, with 40p charges being introduced, has been backed by city leaders.
Plans to outsource the refurbishment and maintenance of the city’s loos through a 15-year contract will now be voted on at a full meeting of City of York Council, after being approved by the authority’s cabinet.
The changes would mean 24-hour opening, with the St Sampson’s Square block closing and the Silver Street facilities being improved.
The contract would cover Front Street in Acomb, Coppergate, Exhibition Square, Tanner Row and the Nunnery Lane and St George’s Field car park toilets.
The council said the new arrangements would save £75,000 a year and the refurbishment of nine of York’s ten toilet blocks will be completed by next May, with work being done on Exhibition Square first. All toilets will have unisex and baby-changing facilities, alarm cords for disabled users and better access. Up front refurbishment costs will be paid back over 15 years by top-slicing the council’s annual toilets budget. The British Toilet Association has welcomed introducing the 40p-per-visit charges.
Coun David Levene, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “It might not be glamorous, but it is certainly important and would mean significant improvements. This is a good deal for residents and visitors.”
Council leader James Alexander said toilet charges were in place in cities across Europe and budget constraints had made improvements difficult.
“We’ve known for some time that our public toilets are not of the quality befitting this city and they do not give a good impression of York,” said Coun Alexander.
The council would have no control over charges, apart from the requirement that prices did not rise by more than 10p a year, but no more than two increases in 15 years are expected.
The council said maintaining the current arrangements would require extra funding or closing some toilets. The cabinet also agreed to take a two-year lease, with an option for a third year, on an as-yet-unnamed city-centre building as a short-term base for York’s health and social care hub, a partnership with the voluntary and community sector. It will allow more time to find a permanent solution after plans for the hub to be based at Oliver House, the former Bishophill care home, which will now be sold, fell through.
The cost of cremations and other funeral services, wedding and birth registration fees, community centre hire, and fees for tennis courts, bowling greens and council allotments will rise from January 1 after the cabinet gave approval.
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