PLANS that could see Denbighshire’s 20 public toilets closed have been branded an “illogical act of self harm”.

Members of Denbighshire Council’s communities scrutiny committee slammed proposals to cut the £270,000 budget for public conveniences in the county.

Under the plans, Denbighshire Council would attempt to transfer the responsibility for public toilets to town and community councils – saving £200,000 – with no guarantee of town councils taking up the offer.

A community toilet grant scheme would also see local businesses offered £500 a year to allow the public to use their facilities.

But at a tense meeting, several councillors appeared to publicly criticise Denbighshire’s officers, with one member of staff accusing members of making the matter “personal”.

Corporate director for the economy and environment Tony Ward introduced the report.

“Unfortunately, the view is the council doesn’t have the financial resources to continue providing this non-statutory service in the way it’s currently delivered,” he said.


“Therefore we need to do what we can to mitigate against the impact of that reality and look to transfer as many public conveniences as possible and also to promote the community toilet scheme to ensure that there is access to toilets in our community for residents and visitors.”

Cllr James Elson said: “I think it’s been a bit of an easy sweep to just say close all 20.

“I think they need to reassess the need in certain areas like tourism on the Rhyl front and Llangollen where people arrive to visit Wales and Denbighshire.

“They need public conveniences, and I think shutting them would be the wrong thing.”

But Mr Ward explained the council didn’t have the money.

Chairman Cllr Huw Williams asked how many businesses had volunteered for the £500 community toilet scheme.

Officer Hayley Jones said the council was looking at the need in communities, determining how many schemes would be funded.

Chairman Cllr Huw Williams said officers were putting the cart before the horse, in terms of making proposals before information was available.

“I’m struggling to chair this meeting with the lack of information,” he said.

Mr Ward argued there was a balance between addressing an issue early and providing councillors with information.

But the corporate director also admitted only one business had signed up to the community toilet scheme so far but added it was possible all toilets could be transferred to town councils.

Cllr Karen Edwards said closing Llangollen’s public toilets would have a massive effect on tourism, arguing many coach parties brought elderly people to the town – with 6.3 million visitors coming to the county every year.

“Without this facility, Llangollen will no longer offer a convenient relief stop for coaches, and they may well cease to stop there,” she said.

“The town will suffer, and the closure would therefore be an illogical act of self-harm.”

Cllr Edwards claimed Llangollen’s Market Street car park generated over £171,000, equating to 43% of Denbighshire’s car park revenue when considering car parks with toilets.

She then criticised Denbighshire spending £700,000 on non-statutory marketing of its tourist industry.

Councillors then asked what the plan would be for the empty toilet buildings if closed, prompting Mr Ward to admit there wasn’t a plan and that toilets would be “locked up” – if town councils couldn’t adopt them.

Cllr Jon Harland said councillors should trust officers, blaming Westminster for the lack of funding.

Chairman Cllr Williams abruptly responded: “If I hear ‘Westminster’ one more time, right, I’m just going to cut you off because I’m fed up hearing about Cardiff and Westminster.

“We’re here to discuss Denbighshire residents.”

The committee also heard how shutting toilets seasonally wouldn’t save as much money.

Cllr Gareth Sandilands summed up the feeling about the level of detail in the report. “I’m really disappointed, and this is going out to the public as well,” he said.

Cllr Andrea Tomlin added: ” I don’t want this to come back (to committee). I want it scrapped. It’s a ridiculous suggestion. It’s unfathomable and not fair.”

She then called the lack of information in the report “staggering” and questioned Mr Ward’s admission that the toilets were in a “bad state”, adding: “Who one earth’s going to buy into them?”

Cllr Hugh Irving added: “I think this particular proposal is devastating.

“Do we expect to encourage visitors to our resort towns or our rural areas?”

Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts said: “I find it embarrassing that we’re pushing a button to make a cut of £270,000 without looking at the (other) options.”

Officer Paul Jackson said: “It’s a little bit disappointing some of the language used because it has felt a bit personal.”

Cllr Alan James proposed officers provided more information.

Cllr Jon Harland seconded the proposal, and the vote was unanimously backed.