Launceston Town Council decided this evening to take over the running of two public toilets in the town to save them from closure by Cornwall Council. The decision, by 11 votes to 3 with one abstention, will secure the future of the facilities in the Walk House car park in Tower Street and of the toilets in Race Hill car park.
Some months ago, Cornwall Council made its first effort to persuade town and parish councils to take over the running of public toilets. Then a month ago they published a list of 114 toilets across Cornwall which they were withdrawing funding for. In essence, they were telling town and parish councils to take them over or they would be closed.
In Launceston, the offer is being made to give a grant of around £11,000 to the town council to take over the Race Hill toilets but nothing for Walk House. Although the £11,000 is less than it costs Cornwall Council to run Race Hill toilets, the Town Council felt that they could run both sets for only slightly more and so they would take on both. The only worry is that the £11,000 grant is only guaranteed for the next two years. After that time it might be reduced or even cut altogether leaving town council precept payers to pick up the entire cost.
The situation was best summed up by Mayor Rob Tremain who said "Cornwall Council is holding a gun to the head of the town council but we have a responsibility to the people of Launceston and our visitors and if we don't look after them who will."
It's worth noting that Cornwall Council is busy dumping services on town and parish councils whilst at the same time putting more than £7 million in the bank this year that could be spent on securing such services.