TWO Minehead toilets had to be closed due to mindless vandalism over the weekend.

Damage was caused to the toilets in Summerland Place and Blenheim Gardens over the weekend with pipes broken, windows smashed, locks damaged and toilets seats ripped off.

The toilets in Summerland Place were damaged sometime between noon and 6pm on Friday, April 13.

The damage was discovered by the cleaning contractor and involved a broken water pipe which had caused the premises to be flooded.

The building had to be closed for safety reasons but is now open.

Then, between 7am and 11.30am on Saturday, the Blenheim Gardens toilets were badly vandalised. The rear windows of the ladies and the disabled toilet were broken, a toilet seat had been ripped away and and an interior door lock broken.

The gents toilets were vandalised overnight. When the cleaner arrived on Sunday, she found that the lock had been vandalised and they could not be opened.

Mayor of Minehead, Cllr Jean Parbrook, confirmed both toilet blocks in Blenheim Gardens and the Summerland Place toilets are now open, and that the police had been notified of both instances.

Cllr Parbrook said:“Public toilets get vandalised, it is a sad fact of life. Minehead Town Council (MTC) cannot risk the safety of the public by opening when there is any chance of injury.”

Minehead Town Council’s contract for cleaning the toilets also came under scrutiny this week, as the Minehead Community Group on social media found that the council was paying £2,000 a month to Somerset Cleaning Services Ltd, owned by chairman of the finance committee, Cllr Gary Miele and his wife, to clean the toilets.

The council responded saying a firm called RCCS had been employed to clean the toilets in Irnham Road Recreation Ground - this was set to go out to tender in May 2016 - when West Somerset District Council announced it would close all of West Somerset’s public toilets unless parish and town councils or community groups could take them over.

MTC decided the tender would be reissued when the legal transfer of the toilets had been completed.

Subsequently, Somerset Cleaning Services Ltd bought RCCS in September 2016, which meant the MTC cleaning contract moved to Somerset Cleaning Services Ltd.

A town council spokesman said: “Cllr Miele informed all town councillors and the monitoring officer, who updated his declaration of interests.”

In February 2017, MTC voted to take ownership of the toilets in Blenheim Gardens and Summerland Place and to lease Quay West toilets.

The council also voted to extend the existing cleaning arrangements to cover the interim period before the legal transfer of the West Somerset facilities was complete.

The MTC spokesman said: “The ‘Invitation to Tender’ to clean all the public toilets in Minehead was agreed at the full council meeting in October 2017, but unfortunately the transfer process has taken longer than anticipated and MTC have not yet completed the legal transfer of Blenheim Gardens and Summerland Place and are running them under licence with Warren Road and Quay West from West Somerset Council.

“The tender will be reissued when the legal transfers are complete.”

MTC emphasised that Somerset Cleaning Services Ltd is cleaning the toilets on a temporary basis and employed three local people to carry out the work.

An MTC spokesman added: “The arrangement requires them to clean the facilities at Summerland Place twice daily and at Quay West and Irnham Road once daily for 363 days of the year.

“They clean Warren Road toilets and the shower daily for 284 days of the year (the other days being covered by MTC) and Blenheim Gardens are cleaned once daily 180 days of the year during the peak season.

“This equates to almost 2,000 site cleaning visits per year.”

Cllr Parbrook added: “The transfer process has taken longer than we envisaged initially, however Minehead Town Council has kept open five blocks of toilets which would have closed if we hadn’t agreed to take them over.”