Villagers have accused council bureaucrats of preventing them from spending a penny to save a few pounds. Campaigners are furious that toilets in Beltinge have been sent down the pan, saving £5,000. But the decision means pensioners face the inconvenience of a mile-long trek to the next nearest loos, at the Kings Hall. Ray MacPherson, of Reculver Road, said:
When one is elderly, the thought of having to go another mile when there has been a facility in the village for years, is just too much.
It is not as if the toilet is often vandalised; in more than 30 years living in the village I have only known it to be closed once because of this. The disabled facility is second to none and is used by at least two wheelchair users during the week. The toilet at the Kings Hall is not suitable for disabled people and the slope down is difficult for the elderly.
Mr MacPherson said parking near the Kings Hall was also difficult so even if people were in cars they would not be easily able to go to the toilet. He added:
I am certain that there are other toilets in the district which are used less and not maintained to such a high standard as these in Beltinge that could be closed rather than depriving the disabled and elderly in our village. I invited the officers to come and do a proper survey particularly in term time but they have declined. It is just one more nail in the coffin driven in by Canterbury City Council.
Canterbury City Council spokesman Rob Davies said the decision was made after a review by councillors of all the district’s toilets. He said:
It looked at a range of factors including current provision, cost, level of use and their proximity to other facilities. Evidence was taken from residents, local groups, council officers and contractors in order to gain as much information as possible. The panel noted there was a public need for toilets in some areas and that the council provides many more toilets than most local authorities, and across a wide area.
The review concluded that Beltinge was one of the least used regular toilets in the district and did not serve an identified area of demand, and therefore recommended its closure, which happened in July.
Mr Davies said the council wanted to focus its resources on areas where there was more demand, such as Central Parade near Lane End, Reculver and the Memorial Park. Other toilets in the town closed as part of the latest review including Hampton pleasure gardens, because the building was in a poor condition and the Kings Road car park after the market moved to the town centre. They had only been open on market day.