A GRANDMOTHER was forced to let her young grandchildren spend a penny in bushes after council bosses locked the loos up early by mistake.
Karen Fletcher, from Washington, regularly takes toddlers Callum, six, and Kaitlyn, two, to play in Herrington Country Park.
But when the 52-year-old took the kids to use the toilets on Wednesday, they discovered they were shut.
Supermarket worker Karen had to carry the little ones into bushes so they could relieve themselves.
Eventually the trip had to be cut short when she needed the loo and the family went back to Karen’s home in Albany.
Karen, who works at Sainsbury’s in Washington, said: “We got there about 3.20pm and the toilets were closed.
“I was basically having to take them into the bushes.
“Someone suggested going to the Penshaw Tea Rooms over the road, but then I have a two and three-year-old to take over a 50 to 60mph road.
“The park is a big place and there were no facilities at all for elderly, disabled, adults.
“The park was chock-a-block. The lad in the ice-cream van said he was desperate and he was going to have to move the van.
“The toilets usually close at 5pm, but I think they should be open later, with the light nights.
“There were a lot of kids in the park. Mine are only little, so I can pick them up, but when they get a little bit older, you can’t do that.
“I have gone to the park since the grandchildren came along.
“I will be back there next week, but I will expect them to have done something about the toilets.”
Councillor Michael Mordey, portfolio holder for city services, said: “Staff at the park open the toilets at 7.30am every morning which should remain open throughout the day until 5pm when they are locked up for the evening.
“On this occasion the key wasn’t handed over as should have happened between the different shifts, and the toilets were locked earlier than usual.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and the matter has now been resolved to ensure that this does not happen again.”