Plans to spend £71,000 refurbishing public toilets in Newbiggin, which had sparked a row with residents, have now been dropped.
More than a year ago, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Town Council decided to refurbish the ‘strategic’ toilet block at Church Point, allocating £20,000 in its 2018-19 budget and the same for the coming year in order to bring them up to modern standard.
Northumberland County Council said it would open, close and clean the toilets – as it does for the new facilities on Front Street – if the town council met the other costs and paid for the renovation.
As previously reported, the town council agreed to find the £31,000 shortfall to go ahead with the scheme last month, after the tender process saw the cost of the works increase significantly.
But the authority has now decided to cancel the project entirely following a behind-closed-doors extraordinary meeting
The rising costs had sparked concern among some residents, with an online petition, ‘Say no to £71,000 of our money being spent on derelict toilets’, being signed by almost 250 people, and 40 members of the public attending a first extraordinary meeting on the issue on Wednesday, January 30.
At this meeting, despite objections, members agreed to fund the extra £31,000 from the current year and next year’s allocation of section 106 funding, however, following another extraordinary meeting yesterday (February 14), the town council published the following brief statement on its website today (February 15).
“At a meeting of the town council, held Thursday, February 14, members agreed to cancel the project to refurbish the public conveniences near the Cresswell Arms. The decision was made in light of new information that had been received and increased revenue costs that had not been budgeted for.”
The town council had previously said that it was ‘keen to progress regeneration of the town and provide services for visitors and the elderly’, adding that public-toilet provision was the number one priority in the public consultation exercise related to the town plan.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Ser