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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Cumbrian market trader's anger over toilet closure

A market trader is appalled that the public toilets where he trades have shut.

Iain Aird photo
Iain Aird

Iain Aird has been selling from his fruit and vegetable stall at Cleator Moor Square for the past three years.

But the 53-year-old got a shock last Friday when he attempted to use the public toilet and found it was closed.

The toilets are due to shut next month as part of Copeland Council’s cuts to save about £3m by 2015, but it is unknown why they are closed at the moment.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” said Mr Aird. “How can the council encourage people to shop and trade at the market if they can’t use a toilet.”

Mr Aird sets up his stall first thing in the morning and leaves around 4pm. He said he would struggle to work for that many hours a day without a toilet break and he isn’t prepared to use facilities in nearby cafes as it would seem cheeky.

Nobody from Copeland Council was available for comment as to why the toilets were shut.

Copeland’s cull of services was confirmed last month.

These include the closure of Whitehaven’s Tourist Information Centre and the cancellation of Christmas lights, the concessionary travel scheme and doorstep collections of cardboard and plastic recycling.

All of the borough’s public toilets – including Cleator Moor – will shut, however it is hoped that those at St Bees foreshore and Whitehaven Market Place can remain open and be run by St Bees Parish Council and under the Whitehaven Townscape Heritage Initiative.

The council will reduce the frequency of public grass cutting, and remove street furniture (seating, bollards, gazebos etc) and public flower displays. Charges will also increase for council-owned car parks, cemeteries and crematoriums.

The council will also withdraw funding to The Beacon museum, although talks are ongoing between the council and Sellafield Ltd to keep this facility running as a visitor centre, possibly with a tourist information centre incorporated. A formal agreement must be reached by April this year.

It will also reduce funding to North Country Leisure, the managers of a host of facilities in the borough.

The council has been forced to slice services after having a third of its budget cut by the government. It was the eighth-worst-hit council in the country. Christmas lights in Whitehaven, Cleator Moor and Cleator will continue this year and next but will stop being paid for by the council in 2015.

All the other cuts will be introduced on April 1.

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