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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Carlisle shopping centre treated us 'like yokels' in toilets row, say councillors

Councillors say they have been treated like “yokels” by a Carlisle shopping centre.

Lanes loos photo
The toilets in The Lanes

The comments came at a meeting of Carlisle City Council’s development control committee, where they discussed the closure and relocation of The Lanes shopping centre’s award-winning loos.

Members examined an application to convert the public toilets to a retail space.

The shopping centre has also submitted plans to open replacement toilets upstairs.

However, members were angry that work had started at The Lanes before anything had been discussed by the committee.

Councillor Hugh McDevitt, who represents Denton Holme, criticised the managers.

“They think we are just a bunch of country yokels here,” he said. “We are here as a council and the reason we are here is because officers come up with recommendations and we approve them. If everything was clear cut all the time we would not need a council.”

Stephen Daniel, the planning officer in charge of the case, said the space formerly occupied by the toilets would be filled by a new American-style diner.

The loos picked up a platinum award from the British Toilet Association in December after they had picked up the gold award for the previous seven years running.

They were closed earlier this month with temporary facilities put in place until the new toilets are built.

Councillor Doreen Parsons, who represents Great Corby and Geltsdale, was not happy with the temporary arrangements.

She said: “The provision we have at the moment is horrible and the people of Carlisle deserve more.”

Councillor Ray Bloxham, who represents Longtown and Rockliffe, added: “This has been very badly handled by The Lanes.”

Members passed the application to convert the public toilets with a unanimous vote. They also delegated powers to Jane Meek, the authority’s director of economic development, to approve two separate planning application for a replacement toilet block in The Lanes if no objections are received.

David Jackson, commercial director of The Lanes, did not respond directly to the councillors’ comments.

However, he said: “We had an offer from a restaurant firm and we were very keen to have them in because the restaurant that was there before (in the unit next to the toilets) had gone bust and we had a vacancy.”

He added that there had been a limited amount of time to deal with the offer from the firm.

“In the commercial world you have an offer and you have to make a very quick decision to react to that offer,” he said.

He also pointed out The Lanes loos were “shopper toilets, not public toilets”, and said the temporary facilities would remain open until new permanent toilets were built.

Have your say

I think Carlisle people and visitors to the City deserve to know WHY these excellent toilets have been closed/demolished BEFORE planning permission to build new ones has been granted. Surely it would have been much better for public relations and a bit more seemly to have waited for a decision? Right in the middle of the tourist season. Also, the proposed plan will be of considerable inconvenience to the Library. It involves taking away much of their office space (of which there is little enough) and most of the staff facilities. Do we really think so little of our library? The American Diner must have been really insistant on this particular site, which is obviously going to cause a great upheaval. I wonder why when there are many seemingly suitable empty sites in the city centre. Moving toilets to the library level will indeed cause difficulties for some people. How often have we seen the escalator out of action, or the lifts not operating properly?

Posted by kathleen Barling on 5 July 2014 at 22:24

Firstly, if you go to the Metro a lot of the toilets are upstairs. Secondly, never heard so much fuss over some toilets - get over it.

Posted by Bobby_jo1970 on 1 July 2014 at 17:17

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