A GROUP - calling itself Gargrave Needs a Toilet (GNAT ) - has been set up to keep the village’s threatened public toilets from going down the pan.

The toilets, believed to be the last remaining public facilities on the long journey on the A65 from Harrogate to the Lakes, were due to close at the end of the year.

The parish council, which took over their running from Craven District Council in 2010, says it can no longer afford the £12,000 per year, representing a quarter of its Council Tax precept, to keep the toilets open.

It was also facing a bill of a possible £60,00 to repair an outside wall.

But some community minded villagers are determined the facilities will remain open and have formed Gargrave Needs A Toilet (GNAT).

The group, which has just five members, says it will form a rota to make sure the toilets are opened in the morning and closed at night and also to keep them clean.

It also hopes to make the facilities more water efficient, so cutting down on water bills, and to apply for funding to make the necessary repairs.

Gargrave ward councillor Simon Myers, and a founder member of GNAT, said the toilets were the last remaining public facilities on the main route between Harrogate and the M6, and it was important that they remained open.

He also points out that following the recent upgrade of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath, between Gargrave and Skipton, is it important that the facilities are there for the expected increase in numbers of walkers, cyclists and canal users.

“The fact is that the parish council can’t afford to do it anymore. It costs a quarter of the precept to keep the toilets open and now a wall needs rebuilding, where it has been eroded by the river, and could cost £60,000.”

There is a donation box inside the toilets to help pay for the cost, which currently raises between £1,500 and £2,000 per year.

Cllr Myers said a large part of the cost was down to paying for the toilets to be opened and closed and for the cleaning, which would now be carried out by the members of the group in a rota.

“The toilets are used by walkers, cyclists, people on the canal and those visiting the village greens, and it is one of the things that puts elderly people off visiting somewhere, if there are no toilets,” he said.

Anyone who would like to help GNAT can email@ gargraveloo@outlook.com