Skipton’s mayor has reacted angrily to a decision to close the public toilets in the town’s busy bus station.
The two ‘pay and use’ toilets, which formed part of the bus station’s £1.2 million refurbishment scheme in 2009, have been declared too expensive to run by Craven District Council.
It says the toilets cost around £2 per user – despite a 20p charge – and around £20,000 per year to maintain.
But the mayor of Skipton, Coun John Kerwin-Davey, said the decision to close them “defied belief”.
“A few short years ago an enormous amount of ratepayers money was spent on building these toilets, but now those responsible have found we can’t afford to run them – even though people have to pay to use them.
“You couldn’t make it up,” he said.
The mayor, who also sits on Craven District Council, drew a parallel with the council’s current proposals to equip all its members with tablet computers.
“Of course, we can afford unwanted iPads for us councillors to play with, but this is what is called priorities and gives a stark demonstration to a lack of understanding of just what is important to the community,” he said.
The mayor believed the closure would have an impact on people visiting the town – which later this year is expected to receive thousands of visitors for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.
“Skipton thrives on visitors and although I would not class a lavatory as a tourist attraction, I am quite sure it is just that. This closure will have a significant effect on visitor numbers,” he claimed.
“It is a basic measure of a civilised, well-run community that public toilets are available at the point of need.”
The decision to close the toilets was greeted with surprise by several members of the council.
A spokesman confirmed the toilets would close on Saturday and a sign would be put up directing people to the facilities in the High Street Car Park and Coach Street, which are now the responsibility of the town council.
“The five-year cleaning and maintenance contract with the company that installed the facilities has come to an end and will not be renewed.
“The savings will contribute to the council’s necessity to find additional savings,” said the spokesman.
Councillor Alan Sutcliffe (Cons), the council’s lead member for financial resilience, added: “Not enough people are using this facility to justify the large sum of money we spend each year on cleaning and maintenance.
“It costs council tax payers about £2 per user. Therefore, it makes sense to close it down at a time when we have a continuing need to make savings to balance the budget.”