Monday, 21 February 2011

Where to spend a penny?

In the recent budget proposals Redbridge Council plan to close down 4 public toilets and make cuts to 12 more: changing opening, reducing cleaning, possibly reductions to just part-time use.

The 4 public toilets set to be completely closed are:

• Eastwood Close, E18 1BX off George Lane, South Woodford
• Horns Road, IG2 6BE Ilford
• Aldborough Road South, IG3 8JE Seven Kings
• The Wash, IG1 4DJ by Valentines Park, Ilford

The Council proposes spending more in 2011/12 to close those toilets than to keep them open.

Concerns raised by local groups include the need for such services particularly for vulnerable residents and visitors as well as the general public, especially:
• Prostate cancer patients
• Those with other prostate-related problems
• Multiple sclerosis patients
• Those with diabetes
• Some women at the menopause
• Some patients with heart conditions whose medicines have a diuretic effect
• The elderly
• Mothers with young children (The Council shows The Wash has “baby change” facilities)
• The homeless
• Those with bladder or bowel conditions
• Some with post-operative issues

As well as public toilets being so important for those listed, the potential budget savings the council is claiming equate to annual amounts which Councillors have previously described as insignificant in budget discussions. Therefore Redbridge Council may be in breach of Disability Discrimination legislation?

The reduction in cleaning etc (council ref: CDS302) shows “spending reductions” of £217,000 per year (£651,000 over 3 years), yet once you take into account setting up a new scheme, which the Council admits will cost £391,000 and redundancies costed at £200,000, this leaves an overall “saving” of just £60,000 over 3 years. Equivalent to just £20k per year, this amount could quickly be eaten up by anti-social behaviour issues and dealing with complaints - which the Council recognises as resource implications, but for which we have not seen the costings, and which the Council appears to have ignored as it showed “N/A” under “other resource implications” in the budget paperwork.

The immediate costs are huge, have severe implications for the disabled and disadvantaged and do not appear to offer real benefit?

Latest Council-figures show the closures are purported to save £92,000 p.a. (not £100,000 as in initial Budget report CDS309), yet redundancy costs amount to more: £102,000, thus costing more in 2011/12 to close those toilets than to keep them open.

There would be further costs which are not accounted for by the Council, but which it acknowledges such as: security costs, vandalism, anti-social behaviour, public urination, defecation etc. What will be the costs of dealing with those things and repairing damage to property etc? Existing contracts run till July 2012 so what are the contractor costs? What about the increased cost of home care services for those prevented from going out due to issues around lack of toilet facilities?

An on-line petition can be signed below:

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