'I'll show them': Northampton pensioner takes on council in bid for more loos and benches at coach station

Dagmar King, 70, has gathered 400 signatures for a petition to get somewhere to sit at the Victoria Street coach station.

Dagmar King, 70, has gathered 400 signatures for a petition to get somewhere to sit at the Victoria Street coach station.

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A 70-year-old woman is taking on the borough council to demand more loos and benches at a Northampton coach station.

She has collected 400 signatures for her cause and will give a speech at a full council meeting on Monday (March 13).

Dagmar will present her petition on March 13 (Monday).

Dagmar will present her petition on March 13 (Monday).

Dagmar King, 70, from Monks Hall Road, Abington, Northampton, says she is tired of the single automatic toilet at the Victoria Street coach station.

She said: "That toilet is more ornamental that useful.

"We are supposed to be an up-and-coming town, but here, at the coach station, where some people have their first impression of Northampton, is a car park with nowhere to sit and a toilet that sometimes doesn't even open."

The coach station, which is in Victoria Street, is made of two bus shelters with no benches and a single coin-operated toilet.

The single coin-operated toilet at Victoria Street coach station. Mrs King said: "It's more of an ornament than a toilet."

The single coin-operated toilet at Victoria Street coach station. Mrs King said: "It's more of an ornament than a toilet."

The toilet costs 10p to use, has an automatic sliding door and has no manual flush, but instead cleans itself after the user leaves.

But Mrs King said: "It just doesn't work sometimes and won't open.

"I'm 70 years old and I can't drive myself to places anymore. So all my friends and I take the coach instead. But when the coach is late, and you've been standing around for hours, and the toilet decides it doesn't want to work, I'm in a real pickle.

"There are no benches in the shelters to sit down either. We're not canaries who can perch all day. We have bad backs and need somewhere to sit.

The benchless bus shelters and the coin-operated toilet on Victoria Street.

The benchless bus shelters and the coin-operated toilet on Victoria Street.

"All we want is somewhere to sit and a toilet that works every time. The council are experts at digging up the pavement by now, so this shouldn't be too difficult.

"There can be forty passengers at a time with only one loo between us. The only other loo nearby is at the swimming baths up the road. That's no good. I've seen a lady have to head to the toilet at the baths and when she came back her coach had come and left without her."

Fed up of the situation, Mrs King wrote to Northampton Borough Council, including leader of the council, Jonathan Nunn and went to the One Stop Shop service at the Guildhall.

She said: "In all the replies I got, they were very curt and unhelpful. Then they go and spend money on statues and fountains we don't need.

"They thought I was just some 70-year-old biddy who would waddle home and grumble about it over a cup of tea. Well, I'll show them."

Mrs King wrote to her local MP, Michael Ellis, and began collecting signatures for a petition to install benches in the bus shelters and more toilets at the coach station.

She has now managed to collect 400 signatures in just one month.

She said: "I could get double that number if I wanted to, but I can only make it to so many coffee mornings. Some of the people I spoke to are very angry about this.

Michael Ellis, MP for Northampton North, said: "After Dagmar contacted me, I wrote to the chief executive of the Northampton Borough Council, who said he was grateful to be made aware of the issue. He has asked his officers to look into the matter and will act further when the council receives the petition.

"Four hundred signatures is a great number and I fully support Dagmar in her petition. Somewhere to sit and a toilet that works is not much to ask for.

"When they receive the petition, I expect the council will give this matter their keen attention."

Mrs King will present the petition to Northampton Borough Council in a three-minute speech at a full council meeting on Monday (March 13).

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “We recognise that the coach facility on Victoria Street is not ideal which is why we will be introducing new coach facilities as part of the Greyfriars development.

“In the meantime, I have met with Mrs King to discuss the issue and we’re working hard to provide improvements to existing facilities”