Public toilets could be opened on a regular basis if plans to make Accrington town centre an events hub come to fruition.
Hyndburn council chiefs want to see 40 major events a year centred around the £2 million town square, due for completion next year.
The council has come under fire for refusing to spend £16,000 to re-open the loos at the old bus station site, despite ambitious plans for attracting large numbers of people into the town for festivals on and around the square.
However, council leader Miles Parkinson told the Observer the toilets, currently only open on Sundays, could be re-opened to cater for one-off night-time events.
Last month the council defeated a petition signed by more than 2,000 residents and businesses for the loos to be reinstated seven days a week.
Tory group leader Coun Tony Dobson said: “We will have 40 events a year and they’re going to be going into the evening.
“You cannot really practically keep the town hall and market hall open to use their facilities. Do we start to get portable loos in for every event that you have, when 100 yards away you’ve got a perfectly good solution that is open one day a week?”
And in a letter sent to the council leader, toilets campaigner Cheryl Duffy said there would be a legal requirement from the Health and Safety Executive for adequate facilities to cover major events.
But Coun Parkinson replied additional toilet facilities could be put on to coincide with “a major event or a festival in the town square.”
He also said existing toilets in the market hall will be improved.
He added: “There’s a long standing issue with public toilets if you don’t have staff there and they’re not monitored.
"Of course when we have got special events on you have got marshalls, and we would envisage that Peel Street toilets would be brought into use.”
Coun Parkinson added that the Chamber of Trade, together with cabinet member for regeneration Clare Cleary, would also be looking into a community toilets scheme.
But he added: “It’s a discussion between the traders as to what they would like. If you are going to Tesco or the Arndale, or using the cafes or pubs, toilets are there anyway.
“Because of what’s happening in the town square there is money to improve the outdoor market but also for looking at the toilets in the market hall to make them a more satisfactory standard.”
The Accrington Observer is calling on town centre bosses to reopen Peel Street toilets.
The people have spoken and the council should listen. Around 2,000 people signed a petition calling for the loos to be brought back into use from Monday to Saturday. Tellingly, at least 120 of these were local business owners.
We all know the challenges faced by Accrington town centre.
And we are also all aware of the difficulties local authorities face due to cutbacks – but a thriving town centre is crucial to the future of this borough.
The Observer welcomes the opening of the new bus station and the £2m investment in a new public town centre square.
But it is important that we do not lose sight of the basics. If people are worried about finding a public convenience – especially the elderly, disabled, infirm and people with young children – they will stay away.
Given what’s at stake, surely the money needed to reopen these toilets through the week is a drop in the ocean?