A CAMPAIGN has been launched for better-placed toilet facilities for Weymouth's nationally-acclaimed beach amid outrage over a council decision to sell off a central loo block.
There is growing concern over Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's move to site temporary toilets outside the Pavilion in the coming weeks.
The council aims to get these in place for the season to plug the gap in provision after the authority closed the central Bond Street toilets last year. They were sold earlier this year.
Campaigners believe this temporary alternative should be more central for the town centre and beach – the beach was rated the best in the UK by TripAdvisor last month.
Placing them at the end of the seafront next to the Pavilion – just under half a mile from the public toilets near the King's Statue – would seriously disadvantage locals, tourists and beach workers, with some 'caught short', it is claimed.
Cllr Kate Wheller is starting a petition in a bid to persuade the council to site the temporary toilets in a more central position – opposite Bond Street toilets or nearby.
Cllr Wheller said: "I am outraged by this. Only last week while talking to a group of elderly residents I received complaints that it is ridiculous to have no provision between the Statue and the Pavilion.
"It is not just visitors who need to use the facilities – it's people who work on the sands and those who live here ."
Cllr Weller previously raised concerns there wasn't an alternative in place when Bond Street toilets closed. She was also assured the alternative wouldn't be 'builders' Portaloos'.
She said: "I understand the toilets we're getting are 'slightly upmarket' temporary toilets similar to the ones we had on the prom during the Olympics.
"Even so they'll be stuck out at the Pavilion. What sort of impression does that give to visitors coming to enjoy our wonderful beach? It's really poor and people are furious about this."
Daren Deadman, who runs The Boat cafe on the seafront, said he expected problems this season.
He said: "The Bond Street toilets were just about able to cope during high season with the amount of people using them. Now there's going to be extra pressure.
"It will be a nightmare and the pubs and cafe owners will be annoyed because people will be ducking in there a lot more to use the loos.
"It will be seafront workers like us who'll get the brunt of it when we have to tell people they have to walk down to the Pavilion for the nearest public toilet.
He added: "It seems a no-brainer to me to put the temporary loos on the beach."
Punch and Judy man Mark Poulton said: "The council seem to have no idea what the seafront is like in the summer.
"There's so many lovely things going on here but if you have a tourist town you need to do it right and put in the right facilities."
Former mayor Ray Banham, who helps out at the Punch and Judy show said he was 'disgusted' with the council's decision and urged councillors to think again with locals and tourists in mind.
He said: "The council could have kept the Bond Street toilets open, charging people to use them and putting the money back into the building"
Cllr Tia Roos said: "It's very inconsiderate and narrow minded of the council.
"For example, when you're heavily pregnant or have just given birth, the last thing you want to do is walk what can feel like miles to find a toilet, coupled with a young child or baby who may need a nappy change or toilet urgently."
THE council hopes to have the temporary toilets open in time for Easter.
They will be outside the Pavilion on the town side. This is a temporary solution until a more permanent facility is put in place.
Strategic director Martin Hamilton told councillors at a management committee meeting that the Pavilion was the most appropriate site and there was ‘nowhere practical along the Esplanade’.
Responding to concerns, leader of the council Cllr Jeff Cant said: “There has a been a long process to get to this point.
"Until recently we had fifteen toilet sites which were costing us £500,000 a year. We have to be sensitive in where we provide these facilities, but Bond Street toilets were subject to continuous maintenance and repair and we decided to dispose of these when we looked at our portfolio. The other fourteen sites are now being reviewed.
“It would be nice to keep every toilet open but we have to be realistic.”
He added: “We considered the options when deciding where to put the (temporary) toilets and decided they would be an eyesore if they went on the seafront. We couldn't put them at Alexandra Gardens so there'll be at the Pavilion on the town side."