Bath councillors are arguing for taxpayers’ money to be spent on converting a public toilet into a wine bar. It is the latest twist in the Bath and North East Somerset’s (B&NES) bungled attempt to save £120,000 by closing down 14 public toilets across the region.
Situated in the village of Larkhall, the public toilet was all set to be closed down, when a series of protests—including a woman spending several nights in one loo—plus a 2,800-signature petition, forced a u-turn on the council who have agreed now not to close the toilets unless other provision can be made for the vulnerable people who need to use the loos. The whole procedure was so clearly a public relations act to show that the council was getting tough on expenditure, while actually doing little to trim its back-room budget. The removal of one senior management post would more than have covered the £120,000 they wished to save by closing down the toilets.
But now in a worrying trend B&NES is setting itself up as a taxpayer funded restaurateur and bar-owner—it recently ejected one successful restaurant from a city centre premises to set up its own council run bistro. Now it is planning to put taxpayers' money towards converting Larkhall Square convenience into a wine bar.
‘The idea is to turn water into wine,’ says one B&NES councillor. ‘I think the council will put some money towards it, it’s a really viable proposal.’ He adds the wine bar loo has been ‘agreed in principle.' Our message is simple, if it is a viable proposal then why do taxpayers need to subsidise it.
So we may soon be able to toast the health of the council in a toilet—sounds about right…