By Betsy Everett
The public toilets in Askrigg, which have been open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year for more than quarter of a century, will close on Tuesday, October 31, following withdrawal of local authority funding.
Richmondshire District Council stopped the annual £1,556 subsidy, which covered cleaning and maintenance, late last year, for the separate ladies’ and gents’ toilets in the Temperance Village Hall.
The village hall committee have agreed to make the single disabled toilet, accessible from outside the hall, available to all but it will need refurbishment and alteration to the door mechanism to make it fit for use.
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Although the committee have applied to the national park authority for a grant, it is expected to be some time before the single toilet can be open.
“We simply cannot afford any part of the cleaning and day-to-day upkeep,” said committee member, Eleanor Scarr. “Our responsibility for the village hall itself, and keeping that going, is already enormous, and we do not feel it is our place to clean a public toilet.”
When the disabled toilet is available, there will be a 20 pence charge to cover ongoing cleaning and maintenance. Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish council have also been asked for a sum of money for maintenance, and an annual donation has also been offered.
“At the moment we don’t know if this will be enough. We have lost our regular cleaner after nearly 30 years and we shall be appointing a new cleaner for the hall and may be able to arrange some of the toilet cleaning with them, but it is by no mean certain,” Mrs Scarr added. “It has been suggested that we have a volunteer rota to clean the public toilet, and I’d be interested to hear if people have any views on that.”
The toilets inside the hall will continue to be available for those who use the premises for one-off events and regular meetings, and until work begins on the disabled toilet those with a special disability “key” will still be able to use that.