Sunderland conveniences to carry on – council confirms it won’t close public toilets, despite £500k cleaning bill

Public conveniences on Roker seafront.
Public conveniences on Roker seafront.
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COUNCIL bosses say they have “no immediate” plans to close public toilets in Sunderland despite spending £544,319 on cleaning and maintaining them during the past two years.

Unison has expressed concerns in recent days over a move by many local authorities to shut public toilets in a bid to save cash.

The union say cuts are leading to a reduction in the number of free and accessible public conveniences.

Figures obtained by the Echo reveal it costs more than £500,000 to maintain the 20 council-run public toilets currently open across Wearside.

Of these 20, toilets in Seaburn and Easington Lane are currently closed for repair.

Heather Wakefield, Unison head of local government, said: “Government cuts to council budgets have led to many closing facilities leaving areas without public toilets.

“The idea you can just go into a shop or restaurant and ask to use the toilets is just not on. It is embarrassing.”

Sunderland City Council said today it was continuing to look at different ways of saving money.

Councillor James Blackburn, who is in charge of city services, said: “The city council is having to make £100million in savings over the next three years, and we will look at ways in which we can save money while still providing high-quality services to residents and visitors in the city of Sunderland. Even with these imposed budgetary reductions, currently we have no immediate plans for closing any of the existing public toilets as a cost saving exercise.”

Since 2011, there have only been 11 complaints from members of the public in relation to the condition of public toilets in the city.

These relate mainly to condition of the lavatories and their closure due to ongoing repair works.

Last month, the Echo revealed how a council worker was facing an agonising wait for HIV and hepatitis test results after he was pricked by a syringe hidden inside a toilet roll at Park Lane toilets in the city centre.

The man had been cleaning the lavatories wearing only a pair of blue Marigold gloves when he was stabbed by the discarded syringe.

Sunderland City Council told the Echo it does not hold information about how many holes in privacy walls between toilet cubicles have been found in public lavatories across the city.