A row has broken out over a decision to “permanently” close public toilets in Skipton Bus Station.

Craven District Council released a statement last month – published on its own website – saying the automatic toilets would be closed permanently from the beginning of February.

The statement said the closure would take place at the end of a five-year maintenance contract and would save the council around £20,000 per year.

Now, following criticism from several of its own members who have claimed they knew nothing about the decision, the council appears to have made a u-turn.

Last week, at a council policy committee meeting, chief executive Paul Shevlin said the closure had never been permanent and that possible options would be discussed at a meeting next month.

Coun Philip Barrett (Ind) reminded Mr Shevlin that the council statement had made it very clear that it was a permanent closure and that it had also included a comment from the council’s lead member for financial resilience.

Coun Barrett said he had searched through the minutes of past policy meetings and could find no reference to the toilets or proposals to close them.

“My criticism is not whether it was a good or a bad decision, but that a decision has clearly gone through with no public consultation.”

Mr Shevlin said that the decision to end the maintenance contract had been an operational one.

“The decision of closure has not been taken and will go to the March meeting (of the policy committee),” he said.

Coun Barrett said: “We issued a press release saying they would close permanently on February 1. This council has not followed the correct procedures.”

Skipton ward member Coun Paul English (Lib Dem) added that he had learned about the closure while away on holiday. He pointed out the council had plenty of time to re-negotiate a contract and to close them before the summer’s Tour de France with thousands of visitors was wrong.

After the meeting, Coun Barrett added: “In the council administration’s haste to permanently close the bus station toilets it’s clear that proper procedures haven’t been followed. The council shouldn’t be closing public toilets without any consultation whatsoever and no consideration by the policy committee.”