Agenda item

Public Toilets Refurbishment and Renewal Project

report to follow


Mike Humber introduced the report and made following comments:


  • This report proposed a schedule of investment in public toilets around the district;
  • Budgets totalling £1.25m with a mixture of revenue and capital funding had been identified. A further sum of £250k was anticipated although not yet approved via an external grant from Southern Water;
  • The report proposed maintenance works at seven sites. This would focus on addressing existing defects and was not a full refurbishment of the toilets. But it would return them to a much higher standard of repair. Examples of the work content could be found at Annex 1 with the estimated cost;
  • The total spend on revenue repair work was £279k and subject to approval at Cabinet it was proposed to undertake these works in the new year so that they were completed before the start of the 2024 season;
  • The report also proposed capital works at three sites, Margate Clock Tower, Stone Bay and Botany Bay;
  • These capital works would provide significantly improved and accessible facilities at all three sites;
  • There were currently 27 public toilets in Thanet and this report proposes works in 10 of those 27 locations. This investment was proposed to be the start of an anticipated wider and longer term programme of public toilet improvements subject to further funding being identified;
  • The report also proposed that a further report be taken to Cabinet before the end of October 2024 to provide an update on toilet refurbishment and improvement works;
  • The report would update on the capital works programme and would propose next steps to address refurbishment or improvements at the public toilets not included in this initial phase.


Speaking under public speaking, Ms Ruth Bailey made the following comments:


  • Ms Bailey said that this was a subject that she had raised quite often and she therefore wanted to come along to the Panel to welcome this long awaited toilet strategy;
  • Ms Bailey said that this issue was of great importance to residents and visitors alike and was also speaking from experience having been on the frontline listening to complaints when manning the Visitor Information Kiosk;
  • Toilet provision was not a statutory duty for the Council. However, clean and hygienic toilets, particularly in a seaside destination, were essential. There was no getting away from that;
  • Having this strategy in the public arena was a real positive step forward. Therefore, well one to all concerned;
  • The report was clear and honest in its limitations, the detailed rationale, costings and schedule of works was welcome, as was the re-assessment of disability and baby changing provision;


  • It was pleasing to note that, despite fears to the contrary, this refurbishment programme did not seem to entail the closure or selling off of any of the toilet facilities;
  • The first tranche of toilets would be ready for next summer; which is great. However, the timespan of the total programme was given as 10 years (at paragraph 3.4. of the report) which did seem a rather prolonged period. It was hoped funding could be found to speed this up as some of the remaining toilets could not likely wait that long;
  • It would be good to know what the realistic timescale was for the proposed new builds at Margate, Botany and Stone Bay as they were all in a dire condition;
  • Once the toilets were spruced up and more acceptable to our residents and visitors, had any thought been given to introducing a charging system to put money back into their future maintenance?
  • Similarly, had any consideration been given to having commercial advertising on the outside of the toilets, where appropriate, or even inside, in order to attract revenue?
  • And finally, can the public dare hope that once refurbished, the toilets would be open, available and operational at reasonable hours, especially during the long summer evenings when people were still out and about, instead of being closed late afternoon?


Members asked questions and made comments as follows:


  • Was funding from Southern Water going to be used for funding repairs of the existing toilets or for portaloos?
  • How much funding was the Council going to get from Southern Water?
  • Where was the Council going to get the money to pay back the £400k borrowing if the toilets were going to be accessed for free?
  • One Member said that charging for the accessing the toilets was not a good idea;
  • Approaching Your Leisure to take over the toilets was a good option worth considering. Had this been considered and what was the future plan?
  • Southern Water were keen to make amends for the historic damage they made. What were the current relations like between the Council and Southern Water?
  • There was some scope to look at the option of setting up a partnership with a private organisation to manage the toilets in return for a long lease;
  • Another Member said that this was a hugely welcome proposal. Local events were going to enable toilets to pay for themselves;
  • Had infrastructural surveys been conducted and was there a report that Members could review;
  • The need for toilets at the Western Undercliff needed to be highlighted as well;
  • Could the Western Undercliff location be considered on the list of toilets to be refurbished?
  • One Member requested to have the site of those 27 toilets that had been surveyed but had not ended up on the list before the Panel.


Mike Humber and Tony Marmo, Head of Coastal and Public Realm responded to Member comments and questions as follow:


  • The Geoff Oliver & Associates report suggested a ten-year time frame to repair the toilets. However, the Council would try to work to a shorter time-span, but this was dependent on the availability of funding for the programme;
  • Charging for accessing the toilets was something the Council could consider in the future. However, this would require a different model to the one being proposed this time around;
  • Closing times for toilets are dependent on the availability of resources to man the cycle of closing times;
  • There are seven toilets on the list that will get revenue repair works done. Margate, Stone Bay and Botany Bay toilets will be new build capital works;
  • This report was the start of a journey and the commitment was to come back next year with more proposed works;
  • The £400k borrowing would be paid through the Council budget;
  • There were no conversations currently going on with Your Leisure. Such conversations would need to take place only after the standards of the toilets would have been improved;
  • Southern Water had indicated that they wished to fund the Botany Bay toilets refurbishment. They were currently studying the quantity surveyor’s report, before announcing the amount of exact funding but estimated it to be £250k;
  • The Western Undercliff toilets would be added to the list of toilets to be considered for funding when further funding becomes available;
  • Officers would share the conditions survey report with Members.


Councillor Austin proposed, Councillor Garner seconded and the Panel agreed to forward the following recommendation to Cabinet:


That the Western Undercliff public toilets be added to the list of toilets for consideration when further funding becomes available.

Supporting documents: