Unless the decision is postponed, the public toilets behind the British Legion building in Cobham will be closed at the end of the month.
This cost-saving exercise was part of the Elmbridge Borough Council budget for 2009-2010, and I supported it because we were all assured, in public, that no public toilet would be closed unless (i) suitable alternative provision had been promised by local businesses and (ii) all local councillors had been consulted about the closure. The practice of approaching local businesses to make their toilets available has been successfully implemented in Richmond.
My colleagues and I were told of the decision to close the Cobham toilets on 20th July and we were invited to a meeting with the relevant officers to be held on 27th July. This was inconvenient for 3 of us as it clashed with a meeting of the “Local Committee” (where Elmbridge and Surrey County councillors meet to discuss matters of local importance) and was inconvenient for me as I was abroad that day. Further, when I asked how many businesses in Cobham had offered the use of their toilets to the general public, my inquiry went unanswered.
We have now learned that it has been assumed that the automatic toilet opposite Waitrose by the bus stop is an adequate alternative. I disagree. It costs 20p to use, whereas the brick-built toilets are free. There is one stall, whereas in the brick-built toilets there are male and female cubicles. Next, some people are concerned that the door of the automatic toilet might open automatically at the wrong time and cause embarrassment / hilarity depending on your position.
Inevitably the closure will lead to alleyways and garages being used as public urinals. Anyone concerned should add a comment to this post and I will forward all such comments to the powers that be at Elmbridge.