Public inconvenience as toilets close early

Cllr Mike Smith at the public toilets in Moreton Road, Buckingham. They are now closed at 3.00pm.'130508M-B197
Cllr Mike Smith at the public toilets in Moreton Road, Buckingham. They are now closed at 3.00pm.'130508M-B197

The doors to Buckingham’s public toilets have been locked at 3pm this week, due to reports of vandalism and drug use in the facility.

A concerned Buckingham resident contacted the Advertiser last Friday after she became aware of the state of the toilets.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, was horrified to learn from the person who comes to clean the toilets in the morning that they were regularly found to be in a filthy state, with used hypodermic needles on the floor.

The mirror has also been smashed recently.

She sent photographs to Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), which owns the toilets, and on Tuesday the decision was taken to close them from 3pm this week.

In an email to Buckingham Town Council, AVDC’s senior community spaces officer Jackie Robain said: “Following recent reports of anti-social behaviour in the Moreton Road toilets it has been decided to close these toilets at 3.00pm for the rest of this week in order to try to break the cycle of regular misuse. I have arranged for signs to be placed on the toilets doors.”

Chairman of the Buckingham and Maids Moreton Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG), Mike Smith, said the town enjoys a vibrant evening restaurant trade and closing the public toilets in the mid-afternoon would be “an inconvenience”.

He said the NAG had not peviously been made aware of any anti-social behaviour.

Ms Robain told Mr Smith: “The cleaner has been told by the local community that there is a group of people congregating around the toilet area at about 4pm allegedly using the toilets for drug-related activities. We have considered carefully our duty of care to both the public and the contractor and have decided to close the toilets from 3pm to avert this misuse.

“This approach has been successful in the past and it is our intention for the toilets to reopen fully by May 17.”

Mr Smith has referred the matter to the police.

He added: “I look to the police resolving any issue of drugs in the toilets and I hope they’re back into use on May 17 as planned.”

Buckingham Town Council wants to build new toilet facilities in the town centre and has been trying to locate a suitable site.

At Tuesday’s town council meeting, members learned AVDC had vetoed one possible location next to 13 High Street.

They agreed to progress discussions with AVDC about positioning the toilets near the footbridge at Cornwall’s Meadow car park, where the recycling bins are.

The town council has an amount earmarked in its reserves for capital expenditure and will also be looking for external funding.