IT could cost £140,000 to bring seven of Taunton’s public toilets back up to a decent standard, Somerset Council has admitted.

The public toilets on Paul Street, outside Taunton Library, have been an ongoing issue for the local authority and the police, with numerous reports over the last few years of antisocial behaviour and drug paraphernalia being left inside the lockable cubicles.

Taunton resident Ray Rose has demanded that the council takes action, arguing that the recently-created Taunton Town Council should take over the running of the public conveniences.

Somerset Council said it was in “regular dialogue” with the town council over the issue but admitted it would cost £20,000 to bring each of the seven cubicles up to a better standard for the public.

Mr Rose made his feelings on the matter known at the most recent full council meeting, which was held in Bridgwater on December 20, 2023.

He said: “There are seven blocks on Paul Street – five have been locked since April, if not before.

“The sign says ‘temporarily out of use’ – a member of the public has written ‘permanently’ on there.

“Why won’t you let Taunton Town Council issue the contract for the toilets? They are a mess – they stink, they haven’t been cleaned.

“All I get from your officers is a load of rubbish, and it’s got to be sorted now.”

Somerset County Gazette: Ray Rose addresses the council in Bridgwater.Ray Rose addresses the council in Bridgwater. (Image: Somerset Council)

The Paul Street toilets, which are the closest public toilets to the Orchard Shopping Centre, are supposed to be open daily from 7am to 7pm.

People unable to use these toilets have to walk through Vivary Park or use the facilities on Canon Street or Castle Green, which have the same operating hours.

Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts, portfolio holder for communities, housing and culture, responded: “We are aware with ongoing maintenance issues with the facilities at Paul Street toilets – they are known to the council.

“We want to take action on them, but unfortunately there are costs involved in that of around £20,000 per cubicle due to the work that’s needed – so those will need to be looked at as we go through into our budget setting.

“Officers from both Somerset Council and Taunton Town Council have discussed the cleaning contract with idverde, and we have regular dialogue with town council leader Tom Deakin and the town clerk.

“We will continue to have those conversations and hold idverde to account over the contract.”

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