We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

A tale of two loos

December 17, 2018 9:45 PM
By Peter Dobbs and Martin Burfoot
Sue Burfoot by Hall Leys Park toilets kept open by Matlock Town Council

Cllr Sue Burfoot outside Hall Leys Park toilets

The Play Area toilets in Hall Leys Park Matlock were proposed for demolition at the end of the summer season, along with several others, by the Conservative run Derbyshire Dales District Council, despite the thousands of visitors who visit Matlock every year.
Peggy Edwards, a former well loved Liberal Democrat councillor, ran a campaign to provide the facility partly by public subscription, with the Council providing ongoing maintenance, but sadly they have not kept them in good order in recent years. Cllr Sue Burfoot (above) had the support of Lib Dem colleagues, as well as another 8 councillors in seeking to overturn the decision to demolish, with a 'call in' to the full Council. But it was all to no avail, as the huge Tory majority rubber stamped the original decision to close. Of course, there would have been additional costs associated with demolition, refurbishing the pool apparatus part of the toilets building and installing and removing a Portaloo, so we wonder just how much money the Council expected to save by such a cynical move. Matlock's two Conservative councillors voted for both closure and demolition !

Liberal Democrat Town Councillors were astounded at the original offer of only £3,000 to take on responsibility for the toilets, with an estimated £23,000 backlog of repairs and possibly business rates as well! But the good news is that the District Council has changed its mind and increased its offer to over £8,000, so Matlock Mayor Cllr Helen Legood and her Lib Dem colleagues are leading the campaign by voting to save the toilets and are continuing negotiations to ensure that the Town Council can refurbish them far more cheaply, re-open and manage them.

Toilets in Memorial Gardens Ashbourne (closed)

Toilet block near the play area in the Recreation Ground Ashbourne

Unfortunately the story in another Derbyshire town does not have such a postive outcome. The toilet block in the Recreation Ground Ashbourne that served both the park and the children's play-area has been shut by the District Council. How did such a convenient convenience that previous Ashburnians paid for, end up being closed?
Using cost figures shown to be misleading, and incomplete data about usage, the council argued that it cost too much to run and approached the Town Council to see if they would take charge of it (as happened in Wirksworth and will be happening in Matlock). The Town Council declined the offer.
When the matter came to a vote at a full Derbyshire Dales District Council meeting, despite the findings of a survey and local LibDem member Peter Dobbs' statement to the Council about the misleading nature of the arguments used for closure, the Conservative-controlled Council voted to have them closed.
One Conservative councillor spoke up in favour of keeping them open but she was not from Ashbourne. There was only ONE Ashbourne councillor present , and he spoke IN FAVOUR of their closure!