PUBLICAN Malcolm Whiting fears his pub toilets are proving too much of a convenience for the public. Since highways chiefs took the cash-saving decision to close the Brandon Creek toilets, travellers caught short on the A10 are calling in at The Ship. Now
PUBLICAN Malcolm Whiting fears his pub toilets are proving too much of a convenience for the public.
Since highways chiefs took the cash-saving decision to close the Brandon Creek toilets, travellers caught short on the A10 are calling in at The Ship.
Now Malcolm is opening the door at all hours of the day to drivers and their passengers who want to spend a penny in the toilets but not put money behind the bar.
Regular customers have suggested Malcolm put up a sign declaring the toilets out of bounds. But he believes that would be unfair.
"I've had people in their 80s calling at the door needing to use the toilet," he said. "How could I say 'no'?
"I don't want to put up a sign. It's not the sort of thing you do. I am in the people business. But I'm paying the behind-the-scenes costs.
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"Sometimes people call when the pub is closed and I have to turn them away. I have to protect myself and my staff. You're never sure who is calling at your door. But I do feel guilty not letting them in."
The toilets, close to a picnic site and the river, were funded by the Government until the A10 was detrunked.
Responsibility for the toilets was handed to Cambridgeshire County Council several years ago and it received cash help from the Government to maintain them.
But now council officials have been told that, from next year, it will have to foot the total bill - £60,000 to upgrade and refit them and a further £20,000 a year running costs.
"We have asked other councils and organisations in the area if they wished to take them over but no-one has offered to do so," said a county council spokesman. "The council regrets that the toilets have to close but feels that this money would be better spent on providing services for residents, such as care of the elderly or improving road safety."
Littleport Parish Council is fighting the closure but claims it cannot afford to pay for the upkeep.
Chairman Geoff Norman said: "It would mean us raising another 25 per cent on our precept. We don't feel we can ask Littleport villagers to pay for toilets which are three miles outside the village and hardly used by anyone from Littleport."
But he added that the toilets are heavily used by travellers on the A10 and the parish council is calling on the Government to provide funding to keep them open.