IT IS the last thing you want to see as you approach
a town on a journey or a holiday - a sign that tells you the public conveniences
you have finally found are closed. But that is the fate awaiting cross-legged
motorists and their passengers in Barony Road on the edge of
Nantwich (above) or the facilities on the Civic Hall car park.
I often walk along Barony Road on a
stroll, and I noticed the sign (right) that must send travellers into a
panic. That, and the fact that, previously, they would still be denied the
relief they sought if they didn't have a 20p coin or two. Yes, it costs 20 pence to
spend a penny nowadays. Is that 20p per person or can the full car load use the
ladies' and gents' facilities for two 20p coins?
The toilets were two of
only four conveniences in
Nantwich. At the toilets on the Civic Hall car park
boarded-up doors and windows say it all.
The toilets at the top of this page are the ones I feared might be lost with the
arrival of the Greenway - a pedestrians and cyclists
pathway linking Crewe and Nantwich. When the Greenway was laid so that it
snaked round the building, I assumed it had been saved. I have it on good
authority that the toilets are now past their best.
I spoke to - well e-mailed - Caroline Griffies, Senior Streetscape Officer of Cheshire East Council, who is
responsible for cleansing and
street cleaning. She told me: "The
automatic units had reached the end of their useful life and there were not the funds
available for suitable replacements."
Giving his personal view and not
speaking for the Town Council, the then Town Clerk (Mr Riddell
Graham) told me: "Both
the closed toilets were Healthmatic, self cleaning, automatic, cubicle types and were well past their
sell-by date, so I doubt if the Town Council would have kept them on even if
Cheshire East Council had offered them to the council. I personally think public toilets
are a mark of a civilised
community and I know there
have been complaints
about the closure of The Barony
toilets in particular.
However, that is my own view and whether
the Town Council pick up the
bill for public toilets depends on what townsfolk think and what councillors decide."
He added: "Supposedly,
Cheshire East Council are going to sell the two closed buildings but one wonders
who would buy them."
Caroline Griffies, referring to the
two closed toilets, said: "I
am unaware of any specific plans for either The Barony or Civic car park toilet
A HANDY map (right) which is to be seen on a door of the
Barony Road toilets tells would-be users where the nearest working toilets are - the
best part of half a mile away in the town centre. I say "handy" map only because
it is displayed on the toilet but the route is a little convoluted. Tricky to
remember whether walking or driving once you have moved quickly on.
the still-open toilets are at the end of a car park (bottom, left), it is only a small
car park which on three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) are where the outdoor stalls from the
adjacent market hall are sited and on which days no parking is allowed.
In early May 2011, Riddell Graham said: "Market
Street had a fire about six weeks ago but were due to close anyway. The Barony
toilets closed shortly afterwards. This was done by Cheshire East Council to
A Cheshire East councillor involved in negotiations about transfer of facilities
to the Town Council,
said that since it is not
service, but discretionary, that is acceptable."
YOU certainly wouldn't be able to
park a coach on the Market Hall car park - even if, on a non-market day, you were lucky enough to find
enough space. The adjacent Churchyardside is a pedestrianised roadway (still
allowing some vehicles to use it). I mention coaches because as I took the picture of the Barony
Road toilets I saw a coach parked across the road and a man, presumably the
driver, hopefully crossing the road.
Then he saw the closed sign. Even so,
the door a push. Just in case the sign was wrong. I don't know how well he knew the
town but he could have sought out the toilets on the Snow Hill car park, off the Waterlode, near to the River Weaver.
The Snow Hill toilets
block (below, right) is open - for the moment, at any rate - but only between
9am and 4.30pm (don't people need a toilet break outside those times?) and not
at all on a Sunday.
The Nantwich Town Clerk said: "Cheshire
East Council want the Town Council to take over the remaining two blocks and
have vaguely threatened closure if we donít do so, from April 1, 2012.
Again, whether the Town Council take on
responsibility for public conveniences is up to elected councillors to
Caroline Griffies said: "It
is my understanding that the two remaining facilities (Snow Hill car park and
Nantwich Market) are part of the discussions taking place with Nantwich Town
Council regarding local service delivery."
I AM convinced that the people in
council chambers and offices who decide on the opening hours of toilets - and
if they are to open at all - never go on holidays, or for a day out, in strange
towns where they would need to seek out toilets. Otherwise they would make sure
there were plenty of conveniences. Money shortages or not.
You could, of course - if you
could hold on - go for a coffee in one of the many
refreshment establishments that exist in Nantwich, and use their facilities as
you leave, refreshed! But, then again, you would need to start the toilet hunt
all over again in the next town after the coffee had percolated through you.