Q: Why is the council closing toilets?
Like many Councils, Rother District Council is facing significant financial challenges and is currently exploring options to help close the current £3.8 million funding gap, including reviewing our discretionary services and whether these can be managed more sustainably.
During the past 18 months, RDC has been working with colleagues at Town and Parish Council level to facilitate public toilet provision being managed at a local level for the communities they serve. To date progress has been slow but RDC will continue to explore this option as vigorously as possible, but it is now necessary to introduce changes.
Many of our toilet facilities are aging, and some buildings are no longer fit for purpose. We have also seen an increase in the number of vandalism incidents, which are often costly to repair. Contractor costs, equipment and materials prices, and the cost of replacing damaged or worn-out items continues to increase and as such, Rother District Council can no longer maintain the service in its present form.
Q: How has the Council decided which toilets to close on a trial basis and which to keep open?
Several factors were considered when making the decision including ensuring each of the three towns in the district retained at least one facility, the condition of the facilities, the number of visitors accessing the toilets, and proximity to other facilities (including publicly accessible toilets not operated by the council such as those in public buildings, bars, and eateries) and levels of vandalism.
Q: What is the Council doing to improve the condition of the public toilets remaining open?
We are working with our cleaning contractor and our maintenance team to ensure that cleaning is carried out as per our cleaning contract and repairs are completed in a timely manner.
Q: How long will the toilets be closed, and will this be reviewed?
The toilets will most likely be closed for the winter and into 2024. The situation will be reviewed during this period and the Council will continue working with colleagues at Town and Parish Council level to facilitate public toilet provision being managed at a local level for the communities they serve.
Q: Has the Council considered those with disabilities or additional needs before taking this action?
Yes, those people with disabilities and additional needs have been considered and we appreciate that the trial closure of some of the public toilets will cause concern for some of our residents and visitors. Each of our three towns will retain at least one public toilet and we will use multiple communication channels to ensure that those needing to use the facilities are aware of their locations.
Q: Why are some toilets only open during the summer yet others are open all year round?
During the summer months, Rother sees an influx of visitors, in particular to our coastal areas. Some toilet facilities, such as those at Camber Sands are used less frequently during winter months and providing some of our toilet facilities seasonally makes best use of our limited resources.
Q: What is the Council doing to address the high level of vandalism in the public toilets?
The Council is working with our colleagues at Sussex Police to log all incidents of vandalism.
Q: If Parish/Town Councils take over running the toilets won’t taxpayers be double paying for this service?
No, the Council is working hard to provide statutory services whilst addressing the current £3.8 million funding gap, and this means that we cannot continue to provide discretionary services such as public toilets in the way we have previously. By working with our Town and Parish Councils we can help ensure that, where public toilet provision is important to the local community, these services can be provided in a more sustainable way.
Q: How many public toilets are there in Rother and how many will there be when the trial closures start on 13th November?
Rother District Council has 27 public toilet facilities across the district. This is the highest number of public toilets managed by a single council on the south coast. When the trial closures come into effect, we will continue to operate 13 sites, three of which will be seasonal.
For more information on the sites affected by the trial closure, please visit our Public Toilets to close on a trial basis over the winter months webpage.