COUNCILLORS have been urged to consider building public toilets in a new £7m multi-storey car park in Darlington.
Darlington Borough Council closed the toilets in the town’s Covered Market in April 2012 in a bid to save £38,000 a year.
The facilities were the last authority-owned public toilets in the town, and since the closure, several calls have been made by both councillors and market traders to see them reopened.
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At a meeting of the council’s cabinet, Councillor Heather Scott, Conservative group leader at the authority, asked members to consider whether toilets could be built in a new car park on the edge of Darlington town centre as visitors to the town often struggled without access to a public toilet.
The 650-space car park will provide parking for a multi-million pound leisure development planned for an adjacent site, as well as new accommodation for Darlington Association on Disability (Dad).
“This issue has been raised with me about the difficulties of people coming into town and quite a few car parks do have these facilities,” said Coun Scott.
“I just wondered whether that had been considered or whether we could look into it.”
Director of place Richard Alty said the council chose to shut the toilets for economic reasons and that the authority would face further running costs if they were to include toilets in the new car park.
He said: “We haven’t looked at putting toilets in there, at the moment it is just a car park which will also be used by Dad.
“The council took the position to shut the town centre toilets for economic reasons, there are toilets around in the shopping centre and the Dolphin Centre.
“We can have a look at the costs.”
Coun Nick Wallis, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment said Darlington was not the only authority having to close public toilets.
“I think a number of towns and cities are facing exactly the same issues,” he said.
Council leader Bill Dixon agreed to consider the suggestion, saying: “It is worth looking at. It is a reasonable request to check, given that we are only at the design stage.
“The older I get the more I feel we need to look at these issues.”