Plans are now fully underway to get the George Lane toilets ready by Spring

Written by Tony Millett on .

Drawing shows how the toilets will probably look - with the disabled door on the leftDrawing shows how the toilets will probably look - with the disabled door on the leftOne lesson learned from attendance at meetings of all sorts and importance, is that it is fatal for old arguments to be rehearsed.  That is the way to stifle action - and the closed public toilets in the George Lane car park needed 'action this day'.

The Town Council had said they would get - the word 'promised' was used at Monday's council meeting (November 7) - the toilets refurbished and re-opened for next Spring or at least during Spring.

The refurbishment plan will be in two phases - as agreed in July.  First the installation of three direct access toilets (including a disabled toilet) and refurbishment of the adjoining room.  Phase two would be to bring that room into use as...perhaps as a personal care room or as a tourist information point.

All councillors were asked to do was to consider the tender document drawn up by the project manager (whose approved appointment seems to have slipped some councillors' minds) and suggest any amendments.  But doubts were raised on just about every aspect of the project - from the colour of the doors to the configuration of toilets to its overall cost.

Councillor Dobson was fairly upset that there will be no urinals.  But he was really upset about the cost: "I was horrified when I saw that the budget must not exceed £85,000."

He had worked out that a whole bungalow could be built for just £100,000 more than that £85,000:  "Do not think - I urge you - that £85,000 is value for money."  

However, that £85,000 was swiftly eaten into by Councillor Hannaford-Dobson's shopping list of suggestions for different flooring, different coloured doors, posh basin fittings and a canopy to keep queuing users dry when it rained.

Several councillors were strongly in favour of pushing ahead.  As the Town Clerk said: "If you don't move this forward you may not get this done before this council ends in April."

The motion to go ahead with the tender process was passed on a named vote - with Councillors Dobson and Hannaford-Dobson voting against.

What was really surprising is that the second part of the Town Clerk's recommendation was totally ignored - they were supposed to agree that entry to the toilets would be charged at 20p a time.  This would help pay for the project and mean less money would need to be raised via the council tax precept.

The costs of the refurbishment will be covered by a Public Works Loan so the toilets at Chantry Lane can be kept open.  They will be sold when the George lane toilets reopen.  Wiltshire Council's annual costs for running the George Lane toilets were £19,162.60 - including business rates, maintenance and insurance.

It is not really a Clochemerle situation.  But it ain't half tempting to turn it into one.

You were, however, left wondering whether that bungalow would be disabled friendly, vandal proofed and have a 20p entry charge.  And if a bungalow can be built for £185,000, why are developers selling them for upwards

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