RESIDENTS are protesting over the state of their public lavatories.

They complained after the lavatories were closed while the local authority waited for parts to carry out a repair.

Now local Durham county councillor John Shuttleworth has written a scathing letter to the Minister of State for Local Government Nick Raynsford about Wear Valley District Council.

He said: "I received a letter informing me that the toilets were closed for the foreseeable future because they could not get the parts to repair a tap. This is ridiculous. Why don't they just replace the tap? I have heard it will only cost them £12, plus fitting, but instead they have closed the toilets."

But Dennis Nattress, head of business support at the council, said that Coun Shuttleworth's accusations were unfair.

He said: "We were told that the tap was leaking two days before the Christmas break and rather than leave water flooding we closed the toilets until the plumber could get the available parts."

He said that it was not just the tap that needed replacing, but a full unit that would cost between £300 and £400 and that the council was doing its utmost to get the toilets re-opened as soon as possible.