Councillor demands Northampton public toilets renowned for vandalism reopens

Toilets in St James are shut to the public while Northampton Borough Council decides whether to close them for good.

Friday, 24th May 2019, 5:07 pm
Pictures taken from within the toilet block back in 2016.

The state of the public toilets in Abbey Street have been the source of numerous complaints in recent years, which have been brought to light by many Chronicle and Echo readers.

In 2016 resident Dawn Reichhart contacted the Chronicle & Echo and claimed that she saw one man “overdosing in the corner” of a women’s cubicle while his friend stood on guard.

Recently the facilities have been taken over by rough sleepers and drug users and, in turn, have become strewn with needles.

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Councillor Rufia Ashraf has said enough is enough and wants the toilets to become more user-friendly.

Councillor Rufia Ashraf (Lab, St James) approached the Chron this week to help to repeal the borough council's decision to shut the drug-riddled loos as St James is "popular with visitors" - including Saints supporters.

She said residents of St James have had enough and are unhappy that the toilets are closed and want something to be done about anti-social behaviour in the area.

"The council has several options - they can start by refurbishing the toilets and making it disabled friendly," she said.

"With the police office situated on the opposite side of the road, the council and local police can work together to patrol and monitor its usage.

"However, more importantly, we need to tackle these local issues and send out a strong message that we are not going to give in to individuals who have no respect for people or property.”

In July 2016 she said she approached council officers about improving the state of the toilets but to no avail.

"At a recent council meeting the future of these toilets were discussed but no final decision was made," she said.

"In my opinion public toilets should remain open, they serve a purpose and are needed in our community."

Councillor Mike Hallam, Cabinet member for environment, said: “Local councillors and the St James Residents Association were invited to a consultation meeting on 16 November 2018, before the toilets were closed. Those who attended the meeting, overwhelmingly supported the closure of the toilets due to the serious concerns around community safety and anti-social behaviour that were being experienced and had been reported to the council by local residents, staff and the council's contractors.

“We still feel that if the toilets were reopened, similar problems would occur - causing risk to local residents and the staff maintaining them.

"As the toilets have now been closed for six months, I will shortly be arranging a further meeting which local councillors and community groups can attend and discuss other ways of promoting the use of toilets in both local businesses and community facilities, which is a model that has worked well elsewhere in the borough."