Earby Town Council will double its precept in the next financial year to fund public toilets in the town.

Councillors voted to raise the precept from £26,000 to nearly £50,000 to keep Pendle Council from shutting two public toilet blocks on March 31.

The increase will see Band A households paying £28.34 next year, instead of £12.92. The rate paid by Band B homes will rise from £15.07 to £33.06.

The large rise will only be for a year as the council plans to close the current toilets at the bus station and build two new electronic operated toilets in the parish rooms and refurbish the toilets at the Station Hotel.

The council will charge 20p to use both sets of public conveniences.

The highest estimate for the construction and refurbishment is £16,000 and the highest estimate for maintenance is £12,000 per year.

“We wouldn’t consider making a charge for the existing toilets because they’re not very good,” said Coun Chris Tennant, chairman of Earby Town Council. “But we’ve got to have a budget capable of sustaining them.

“This was never an easy decision, but with the bus station in the centre of Earby and the toilets there being very well used, it seemed like the right decision to make.

“When people get off the bus and need to go, where would they go?”

Coun James Jackman, who abstained from voting, wanted to defer the decision to carry out a consultation with Earby residents.

“I certainly support the idea of taking over and renovating the public toilets in Earby,” said Coun Jackman.

“If we don't take over the running of them they will close and that's that, no public toilets in Earby.

“My main concern is that the other councillors who sit on Earby Town Council with me are so happy to levy a 100 per cent precept rise on the already overburdened British taxpayer without so much as an awkward blink.

“I want the toilets but I can't be sure, with the already absurd cost of living, that the people of Earby would support being taxed even more and so I couldn't possibly support nor vote against it.”

But Coun Tennant said that although the town council had held advisory committee meetings to discuss the issue, it did not have the time to carry out a public consultation.

“We could have let them close while we carried out a consultation, but it’s likely the borough council could have then demolished the toilet blocks.”

And Coun Tennant added: “If the people of Earby think we’ve done wrong by keeping them open, then we would look at closing them.”