TOURISM chiefs in Minehead say the threatened closure of a busy set of toilets in the centre will damage the town.

The Carousel facilities near the town’s transport hub are set to close next month as councillors from West Somerset Council struggle to come up with a new deal to keep them open.

Graham Sizer, Minehead Chamber of Commerce chairman, said he believes closure could put people off visiting the town, particularly coach parties.

He said: “The toilets on our seafront are crucial to our future ability to attract visitors.

“This decision on these particular toilets is now recognised by pretty well everyone as wrong for the summer months.

“They are our busiest because they are closest to the town’s transport interchange.”

Steve Grice, of the Minehead Tourism and Business Association (MTBA) helped keep the toilets open over the summer and told the County Gazette it would be a “real blow” if they are closed.

At a council meeting in July, it was agreed West Somerset Council would work in partnership with MTBA to reopen the toilets at The Carousel for a six-week period.

They are still open and discussions are underway with the possibility of them staying open until the end of October.

But there are no long-term plans for the toilets remaining open or opening again next summer.

Bruce Lang, from the council, said: “We are very open to discussion. “We are trying to be flexible but as of yet there is no new deal, we’re looking for someone else to take them on.”

Minehead mayor Cllr Val Welch said: “The toilets are owned by the district council and we cannot say if we would reopen the toilets or not as it would have to go through our finance committee first.”

The council paid the electricity, water, and business rates while the toilets were opened during summer, leaving all other costs down to volunteers.

Mr Grice said: “We raised enough funds to keep going but it’s very costly.

“Although we had a lot of support at our fundraising events, it wouldn’t be enough money to keep the toilets open in the long run.”

Mr Grice said although the MTBA would attempt to fund the upkeep of the toilets, it would be impossible to take on all costs.

While Mr Sizer believes the toilets do not need to stay open during winter, he hopes an agreement can be made to open them again in the summer.

Mr Sizer added: “The MTBA has done a wonderful job by stepping in.

“If a cheap deal can be struck between the council and the traders who have been servicing them this summer, I will back them.

“A contribution from the Chamber to help the situation next year is a possibility. “We have reserves, the MTBA hasn’t.”