January 23, 2020 3.36 pm This story is over 20 months old

Costly toilets refurb may not cure South Holland anti-social behaviour, report warns

The plans hope to improve facilities

South Holland councillors have been warned that planned refurbishments of Spalding and Holbeach toilets costing up to £280,000 might not reduce anti-social behaviour as hoped.

A performance monitoring panel on Wednesday will be told a visit to neighbouring Fenland District Council’s Wisbech facilities, which were upgraded six years ago, has reported a number of issues.

South Holland’s cabinet agreed plans to reconfigure and update the toilets on Spalding’s Sheep Market and Winfrey Avenue and Holbeach’s Church Street toilets in September.

The plans also include the decommission of the Spalding’s Vine Street toilets.

It followed a review by a council task and finish group which reported anti-social behaviour and misuse of the toilets as a key issue for the town.

The plan was to turn the facilities into a number of separate cubicles, with a 20p charge, in an attempt to tackle issues such as drug taking and rough sleeping in the facilities, while allowing the toilets to be open longer.

It’s hoped the use of electronic locking doors will reduce the need for manual locking while improving the ease of maintenance.

The report on Fenland’s facilities next Wednesday, however, said: “The electronic locking on the doors is frequently out-of-order and expensive to repair.

Facilities on Winfrey Avenue.

“Attempts have frequently been made to break into the mechanisms as money is thought to be there.

“Remote locking has not worked therefore they have reverted to locking in person.

“It was reported that people have frequently found ways to hold open the electronic door such as using a piece of card to stop the closing mechanism and return later to sleep inside which causes damage to the locking system.”

It later adds: “It was anticipated that with the introduction of the proposed toilet system ASB levels would reduce.

“During the inspections of neighbouring districts, Fenland District Council advised that there has been no notable impact on the reduction of ASB levels.

“During the visit to Fenland District Council they advised that the chute to dispose of sharps is used although needles are still found behind panels that are ripped off to secrete needles.”

Estimates for the project put the costs between £161,500 and £280,500, though officers admit this could be higher.

SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.