The future of a Sleaford public toilet block remains uncertain after North Kesteven District Council’s Executive Board elected to only grant a licence for another year.
For the last three years Sleaford Town Council has been maintaining and running the Money’s Yard toilet facility under licence since the district council proposed to knock it down and replace it with parking spaces.
This was as the authority progressed with a masterplan for the town centre to turn the yard into a public plaza for shops and restaurants as well as now linking the yard to the planned Heart of Sleaford project which links it up to Bristol Arcade and and the old Corn exchange via a pedestrian bridge.
Back in September 2011 NKDC considered the option of closure and in a report to executive board members today (Thursday) chief executive Ian Fytche said they may wish to consider it again, relating to the wider plans for the town centre which have Money’s Yard at their heart. There are three options on the table to consider - a three-year licence (the preferred option indicated by Sleaford Town Council in order to plan investment in updating fittings), a one year licence as previously, or not to renew and demolish.
Demolition and replacement with parking bays would cost in the region of £63,000 while adding six extra car park spaces would net the authority around £9,000 extra income per year. Mr Fytche said it remained a strong focus of teh council’s efforts to bring that masterplan to fruition in the coming years, whenever that might be.
Deputy Leader of the council, Coun Michael Gallagher pointed out that the Town Council have since installed a single unisex public toilet at the new Sleaford Museum and there are toilets in the NCCD.
He felt they should continue with the one year licence saying: “We are uncertain how quickly the redevelopment may occur, we should proceed with caution and the Town Council have been quite satisfied with the one year before.
Coun Richard Wright felt that NKDC was being portrayed as the ‘big bad council’ but he pointed out that the former Monument Gardens toilets had been reduced to a single unisex cubicle, adding: “The only other ones they are looking to provide are composting toilets on the allotments.”
He said they were left with a difficult decision when bearing in mind they still aimed to redevelop the town centre and so the one year option was best.
Leader of the Council Marion Brighton said progress in Sleaford moves “amazingly slowly” and she did not know how long the yearly renewal would have to go on for but felt a three-year licence could be too long.
She said: “We have to remember when we were first approached by the Town Council they said at that time, when they had a different leader, they only wanted the use of those toilets until they managed to get their own toilets built in the Monument Gardens. That was what was said, I was there.
“That toilet has been built but I do not see anything wrong with letting the Town Council have them on a one year licence at a peppercorn rate.”
This was agreed unanimously by all six executive board members.
* See more in this coming Wednesday’s Sleaford Standard.