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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Demolition begins of Cumbrian town's only public loos

Work begins today to demolish Whitehaven’s only toilet block despite bitter opposition in the town.

Whitehaven toilets photo
The loos in James Street, Whitehaven

Thousands of people signed petitions against Copeland council’s proposals to close the facility last year and campaigned for months to overturn the decision.

But last month any lingering hopes of a u-turn were shattered when the council’s planning panel agreed to the demolition.

And the News & Star can reveal that the work will begin today to bring down the building, leaving shoppers and visitors to the town without any public toilets.

Paul Walker, Copeland’s chief executive, said: “The closure of the James Street toilets is part of the planned budget cuts which we consulted on in October 2012.

“People are welcome to use the toilets in the Copeland Centre, about 200 metres away.”

The axing of the toilets is part of a raft of tough budget cuts.

The organiser of the petition to save them, Norman Humphreys, of Cleator Moor, said it was a “disgrace” that Whitehaven had no public toilets.

Mr Humphreys said that he started up the petition as it was “embarrassing” having to tell visitors, when asked, that the town did not have any public toilets.

“It is ridiculous this town can’t provide toilets,” he added.

Hundreds of people took to social media to complain about the lack of toilets, including C2C cyclists and parents seeking baby-changing facilities.

Whitehaven Chamber of Trade and the town’s market traders also hit out at the closure decision.

The land vacated by the toilets will be restored to a hard surface to match the surrounding paving, and will not form part of a highways improvement scheme.

Copeland has been forced to save £3 million by 2015 – other cuts have included the closure of Whitehaven Civic Hall, tourist information centre and the reduction in grass-cutting, doorstep recycling, and, from 2015, the cancellation of Christmas lights.

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