Closure of public lavatories in Uckfield was the herald of more serious service cuts we have yet to see, says our Saturday independent columnist, Observer
Where have all the public toilets gone?
That was a headline on the BBC website [external link] this week.
Closed is the answer for Uckfield.
Closed because public toilets are not a service Wealden District Council has to provide by law.
Closed as a cost-saving measure.
Wealden has public conveniences at the tourist hot spots of Alfriston, Pevensey Castle and near the beach at Pevensey Bay.
Elsewhere it relies on a community toilet scheme where small sums are paid to businesses to make their toilets available for public use while they are open for business.
Members of the scheme in Uckfield can be found on this page on the Wealden website
The much-heralded upgrade of the bus station has gone mighty quiet for a long time.
This was targeted by town councillors and others as a good place for public loos.
Waiting for news
Let’s hope no news is good news on that one.
Cost will undoubtedly be a factor – not the cost of the building but the running costs.
I was told many years ago that the former loos near the bridge over the River Uck cost £1 for every single use.
How true that was, I don’t know, but it serves to remind us that running costs will need to be covered – seven days a week and into the evening if they are to be really useful.
Sign of the times
Looking at the bigger picture, particularly of councils pulling out of some of the jobs they have traditionally done, I think we will see much more of this.
East Sussex County Council budget difficulties, caused largely by big reductions in government funding, mean the authority is heading for a ‘ground zero’ level of service within the next few years, ie: doing only what it has to do by law.
The situation is that councils MUST do certain things but MAY do much more, if they so wish, and are not barred by law,
Pass the parcel
Those discretionary services are varied, according to the Local Government Association, ranging from “large economic regeneration projects at one end of the scale, to the removal of wasp nests at the other”.
In some instances councils higher up the food chain have tried to persuade parish and town councils to provide the services which are being withdrawn in what can be seen as a bizarre version of ‘pass the parcel’.
That also places a burden and strain on the parish/town council as well as people seeing big hikes in their council tax bills which is not acceptable – particularly as next year’s council tax will be implemented just weeks ahead of elections in Uckfield for the town and district council.
Pleased to see the 20mph limit properly in force in Uckfield High Street and surrounding roads.
Anything which makes the town’s shopping environment more welcoming and attractive is welcome.
Speeding cars add nothing to the ambience.