VIVARY Park’s The Coffee Station was “forced to close” and suffered “loss of income” after the park’s public toilets suffered a drain blockage over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The toilets are the responsibility of Taunton Town Council, with the café premises rented from Somerset Council. By law, the café must provide customers with access to toilets.

Café owner Bridie Rees-Davies said: “[Taunton Town Council] are saying it's because of fat being poured down the drain, but we're not a takeaway business we’re a vegan café – we don't have a deep fat fryer and we don’t put any down the drain. I think a little bit of an excuse to not do anything about the drainage system.

“The blockages usually happen on Sunday when it is busiest, the drainage system isn’t up to par. It would be nice for them to acknowledge that and not blame us for it.

"I pay for insurance to the council, and I would like to be compensated as I lost a lot of income that day. I had to pay my staff to go home. I've had no response, so it just feels unprofessional."

Ray Rose, from Taunton, added: "I worked for the council for 43 years and the drainage here has been a problem since then.

"It's nothing to do with fat, it's a break in the pipe that needs fixing. This is a blame game."

A spokesman for Taunton Town Council said: “We were notified via an out-of-hours call over the late May bank holiday weekend of a drain blockage affecting the public conveniences in Vivary Park.

“As it was a drain blockage, in compliance with health and safety regulations, we had no choice but to close the toilets. 

“The primary cause of the recurrent drain blockages appears to be the historic disposal of fat down the drains by the businesses. They have previously been advised not to do this. With the businesses now following this advice, we anticipate a decrease in these blockages. 

“To confirm, the responsibility for the drain issues falls ultimately to Somerset Council as landlord, with Taunton Town Council responsible for the public conveniences.

“We apologise for the inconvenience, but health and safety will remain a priority and we can confirm that Wessex Water cleared the blockage on the following Tuesday morning (28 May).”