PEOPLE are being forced to “wee in buckets in the streets” and in bus shelters due to the ongoing closure of public conveniences in the Forest.
But there is confusion and conflicting information over why, when, where and who took the decision to close the facilities in the town and the nearby village of Mitcheldean.
Civic chiefs unanimously backed calls by Councillor Shaun Stammers (L, Mitcheldean, Ruardean and Drybrook) on Wednesday (August 2) to refurbish, improve security and reopen the Cinderford and Mitcheldean public toilets within the next 12 months.
Councillor Mark Turner (I, Cinderford West) said the toilets were closed in December 2022 and nobody knew about it until residents started complaining.
“The information we were sent last week says they were closed by informal cabinet in November. They took the decision,” he said.
“There was 100% no consultation with Cinderford Town Council, not a thing. We’ve got people going to the toilet in the street in Cinderford.
“Only the other week the clerk of Cinderford Town Council and the manager up there caught someone weeing in a bucket and then going around the back of the offices to tip it away. There’s people peeing in bus shelters. It’s disgusting.
“Cinderford’s got the hospital for the Forest, it’s got the college for the Forest, it’s got all this levelling up funding but you can’t go to the toilet there. It’s appalling.
“There is antisocial behaviour, without a doubt. All of the antisocial behaviour happens in the evening, the sensible thing would be to open them during shop hours and close them at 5pm.”
Councillor Harry Ives (C, Lydney North) asked why the decision was taken to close the public conveniences and what it would cost to reopen them.
Finance cabinet member Andy Moore (G, Newnham), who welcomed the motion, said he didn’t have a direct answer for him as there is “some confusion over the circumstances on which it was closed”.
“There’s some conflicting proposals existing and we are still trying to understand the financial options.
“I have just heard recently the running cost of a toilet like Cinderford’s is like to be £15,380 a year. Now, within that, only £3,000 of that is supposed to be for repairs. I’m assuming that figure does not include sorting vandalism.
“We don’t want to throw good money after bad. There’s no magic solution we need an in the round and holistic consideration about what we do with toilets in general.
“We need a coming together of interested parties to look at what the best solution may be.”
Former council leader Tim Gwilliam (Progressive Independents, Berry Hill) said he was concerned that the cabinet member hadn’t been told the same as what his cabinet was told as recently as March.
“We were told quite clearly we were asked to close those toilets by the town council and parish council of both areas due to vandalism,” he said.
“And ongoing vandalism, that’s what we were told by officers of this council. What we also did, is as part of the rectifying of that situation we were going to set aside money from the rural prosperity fund to begin a full review into the whole offering of toilet facilities in the Forest of Dean.
“My cabinet was informed by officers of this council that we had been asked to close those toilets because of vandalism and ongoing vandalism.”
Chairman Di Martin (L, Cinderford East), who is also a member of Cinderford Town Council, raised a point of clarification.
She said the toilets were closed in December and the town council was not even aware until February when it was brought to their attention.
“So no. There may have been concerns with vandalism in public toilets but certainly not Cinderford town council.
“And as far as I’m aware Mitcheldean Parish Council bought CCTV and very much wanted their toilets.”
Cllr Gwilliam said he was just stating what he was told as leader of the council. Cllr Philip Burford (I, Hartpury and Redmarley) said it was a perfectly reasonable question to ask as to when and why the toilets were closed.
“I would like an answer to those please. When was that decision taken, who took it and when?” Cllr Moore said he went over there and took a picture and it said on the door they were closed in February.
“The rest of the story, I’m afraid I don’t know.” A written answer will be provided to councillors.
Vicechairman Simon Phelps (I, Westbury-on-Severn) said it was a “shameful” sate of affairs to have public conveniences closed in two of the district’s car parks.
“We attempt to attract tourists to this area, what does the tourist think when they park their cars, go to use our public conveniences and find them shut? It’s most disconcerting.”
The council voted unanimously to pass the motion to look at reopening the toilets.