Fight to save Mirfield’s public toilets steps up

Town councillors have vowed to take their fight for the town’s public toilets right to the top – despite plans by Kirklees Council to shut them as early as next week.
Councillors David Pinder, Andrew White and Kath and James Taylor. (D532A346)Councillors David Pinder, Andrew White and Kath and James Taylor. (D532A346)
Councillors David Pinder, Andrew White and Kath and James Taylor. (D532A346)

Coun David Pinder said he would request crisis talks with the council’s chief executive Adrian Lythgo after Kirklees said it would close the toilets in Station Road on Friday November 22 because of unpaid bills for running costs.

The town council agreed to take over the running of the toilets from Kirklees earlier this year but has struggled to agree on the finer details.

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In an email sent to town councillors last week, Kirklees Streetscene and Housing said the toilets would be closed next Friday due to the council failing to return paperwork and pay costs incurred since negotiations started in March.

It claimed the town council owed more than £2,000 in running costs since agreeing to take over the toilets.

At a town council meeting on Tuesday, Coun David Pinder said: “It is a moral imperative that councils should keep open toilets for the public – but I don’t think moral imperatives mean a great deal to Kirklees Council.

“The bottom line is Kirklees appear to have decided it was going to close all the public toilets and they are now being extremely obstructive – we now hope common sense will prevail.

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“I will be asking for a meeting with the chief executive of Kirklees Council about this. We have made objections to the agreement and they have failed to respond.”

Last month town councillors rejected terms offered for the lease by Kirklees Council.

The latest email said Mirfield Town Council owed Kirklees £2,858.32 for costs incurred between April 1 and October 31 this year, which includes £2,365.61 in cleaning costs, £204.59 in water rates and £288.12 for electricity.

It said the town council owed £1,663.20 in business rates, leaving its total costs at £4,521.52.

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It continued: “The outstanding charges must be paid in full no later than 31 December 2013. Failure to do so will result in further action being taken by the council.”

Mayor of Kirklees and town councillor Martyn Bolt said: “We are, and always have been, committed to an equitable and amicable solution for the toilets. But the terms offered to us were very one-sided.”

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “Discussions have been taking place between Mirfield Town Council and Kirklees Council since March regarding the take-over of the costs and running of Mirfield toilets following the Kirklees Council decision to either close them or let community groups and others take them on at no cost to the council.

“The council is requesting that the total outstanding costs be paid in full (with the exception of the business rates if the Town Council can demonstrate eligibility for small business relief).

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“In the meantime the toilets will be closed from November 22 unless service level agreements are signed and utility bills paid. The council is keen to work with the Town Council to resolve these matters.”