A one-woman protest on Monday highlighted a campaign to save Lincoln’s Westgate car park toilets from closure.
Fiona Purkiss, who runs Midas Arts in the Bailgate, stood outside the public conveniences to highlight her petition against the City of Lincoln Council’s plans to close all but the disabled toilets, and only reopen facilities for major public events.
Executive members of the authority will be asked on Thursday to approve the plans, which will also see the Victorian urinals at The Lawn on Union Road and Newport Arch closed permanently and facilities at Lucy Tower opened for special events only — in a bid to save £86,000 per year.
Fiona’s petition is backed by several businesses and has so far received more than 480 signatures.
She said: “We local residents need loos open every day. It’s a big visitor area here, they all need to go to the loo.
“It’s a moral obligation, the council is the only body that can provide public services such as loos and they need to reopen them immediately.”
She said residents had been very supportive, but were not aware the toilets were being closed.
Resident and dog walker Rob Field said it was “a disgrace” the facilities will be closed.
“If you’re a visitor, and you’ve been on a long journey, it should be available. It’s a facility we all use and you have to have hygiene in the city.”
In response to a city-wide consultation carried out by the city council, nearly 500 people said there were few suitable alternatives to those earmarked for closure.
Businesses elsewhere in the city have also launched their own petitions to stop people urinating and defecating in side alleyways, along with other antisocial behaviour – believed to be due to a lack of facilities – by gating up entrances.
Opposition leader Conservative Councillor Thomas Dyer said his party was also concerned about the proposals.
“We acknowledge the city council needs to make efficiency savings, but it’s clear the council should support visitors, tourists and residents.
“The amount of public urination that has been occurring in the uphill areas is a real concern for us, as well as businesses.”
He added that Lucy Tower was a “major car park” for the city. “It’s not visitor friendly, tourist friendly or friendly for the people of Lincoln,” he said.
“There are problems in the City of Lincoln, no toilets in the centre of Lincoln. So look what’s happening outside people’s businesses.
“The City of Lincoln need to stop burying their head in the sand. It’s a crucial service that the council provides.”
Councillor (Labour) Bob Bushell, Portfolio Holder for Remarkable Place, denied the city council was proposing to “permanently” close the Westgate toilets.
“Rather, following consultation with the public, we are seeking to keep the disabled toilet open and allow the main facilities to be available during events.
He said the Castle Square facilities were just “a short five minute walk away.”
“The proposals to executive are to keep the toilets open at Castle Square, Tentercroft St, the bus station and the Westgate disabled facility,” he added.
“Add to this the upcoming redevelopment of toilets at the Central Market and we believe this provides a spread of facilities across the city, uphill and in the city centre, to serve the needs of shoppers and tourists alike.”