It's a lock-out in Longridge after £7K vandal damage to public loos

Former mayor Coun Paul Byrne outside the now closed Longridge  public toilets
Former mayor Coun Paul Byrne outside the now closed Longridge public toilets

A Lancashire town council has locked up its public loos - after a spate of vandalism left it facing a £7,000 bill.

Those left wanting to pay a visit to the ladies and gents facilities on Longridge’s main high street Berry Lane were caught short when they arrived to find padlocks on the doors.

Longridge Town Council said it hopes the closure will be temporary. The disabled toilet is still accessible for RADAR key users and will, the council pledged “remain operational for the time being.”

Notices have been placed on the entrance doors to the other facilities advising: “Due to the increasing number of instances of vandalism to the men’s and ladies public toilets on Berry Lane, Longridge Town Council has decided to (make) the difficult decision to close the toilets with immediate effect.”

The notices spelt out the cost of the damage: “The costs so far to date to repair the vandalism is in the region of £7,000, that is in addition to the £6,500 p.a. it costs to clean the toilets.”

Councillors say they are working to find a solution to the problem. This week they were due to consider initial costings for installing coin boxes at the facilities.

The lavatories were open from 8am to 5.30pm in winter and from 8am until dusk in summer.

One of the first to learn of the closure was former mayor and ex town councillor Paul Byrne. He said: “The amount of money spent is absolutely ridiculous. We wanted to do something for the youths and things like that but how can we spend £6,000 (plus) and have money to spend on youth activities? It’s a waste of money if you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again. I feel sorry for the council having to make the decision.”

He noted that when he was on the council there were also repeated costs for unblocking lavatories after members of the public flushed unsuitable items.

Another passer by Joanne Lamont of Longridge said her family used the facilities occasionally, when for example her children had been on the nearby park. She said: “It’s a pity for the community. It just ruins it a little bit for everybody.”

Noting that the area is “well kept” she said: “When I was in last week the women’s toilets were immaculate.”

Town mayor Coun Steve Ashcroft said councillors would be discussing options, one of which would be strengthening doors and introducing charges.