First, the district... next, public toilets

Robin Stuchbury
Robin Stuchbury

ONE of Buckingham’s newly elected district councillors has already begun flexing his political muscles – on the subject of public toilets.

Robin Stuchbury, who also sits on Buckingham town council, was one of two councillors for Buckingham South elected to Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) in this month’s elections – making him one of only two Labour district councillors.

And he has been quick to speak up for Buckingham on the subject of the town centre public toilets, on Moreton Road.

Mr Stuchbury has written to AVDC deputy chief executive Jon McGinty this week, asking for the council’s position on the long-term funding of the public toilets.

In 2009, AVDC decided to devolve responsibility for the maintenance of some public toilets to their town or parish councils.

But a letter from Mr McGinty to Buckingham Town Council last year said the estimated cost of transferring the toilets to the town council was higher than previously thought and a recommendation was being put forward to the district council cabinet to reconsider the decision.

Instead AVDC could talk to the town council over whether it wished to take over responsibility for the toilets and when.

Mr McGinty also raised the possibility of discussing joint ownership and/or responsibility.

And he added: “We are not clear what implications, your recent council decision to cancel the community centre project in Cornwall’s Meadow will have on your views as to the quantity and location of toilet facilities in Buckingham in the future.”

Considering the letter at its meeting last week, Buckingham Town Council has referred the matter of the future of toilet provision to its premises sub-committee.

But Mr Stuchbury told the Advertiser: “If they want to shut the toilets, they should be up front about it, so we can talk about it and budget for it on the Buckingham rate.”

He added that AVDC had spent nearly £20,000 hiring Aylesbury’s new Waterside Theatre for the district council election count, which would have kept the toilets open for at least a year and a half.

He said the Moreton Road facility offers the only disabled toilet in the town.

“Buckingham suffers with lack of accessibility as a disabled town. If they shut the toilets, that closes the town off to them,” he said.

He added the loss of public toilets could affect trade and lead to shops closing down.

Buckingham’s other district councillor, Howard Mordue, who also sits on the town council, said: “Having been elected as district councillor, I hope to persuade the district to carry on funding the toilets until the town council can put forward an alternative proposal.”