An action group has been formed to try to save the public toilets in Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from closing. North Somerset Council is working with the owner of the site, the Mendip Hills AONB Unit, Burrington Parish Council and local businesses to find a way to keep the public toilets open.
As part of this years budget reductions North Somerset needed to save the majority of its £400k budget for public conveniences. Rather than closing these facilities the council has been working with Town and Parish Councils and other groups to take over the running of public conveniences in their respective areas and so far out of the 27 facilities which were open in 2012, 22 of these are now being run by other groups. For Burrington Combe, the cost of running these is £4.5k per annum.
The toilets are an important facility for the large numbers of sightseers, walkers, cyclists and outdoor activity groups who visit Burrington Combe. They cannot be kept open beyond October of this year unless a new way of covering cleaning and maintenance costs is found.
The action group has already made progress towards keeping the toilets open. The Mendip Hills AONB Unit is contributing £200 per year towards the upkeep of the toilets as well as paying to install a secure collection box with an information board explaining the situation, to collect contributions from people using the toilets.
The landowner has written to businesses that regularly bring outdoor activity groups to Burrington Combe to request contributions. Local business Mendip Outdoor Pursuits have confirmed they will be contributing £1,200 per year to the upkeep of the toilets. Director David Eddins said, “We have been bringing groups to Burrington Combe for a range of activities for several years. Our groups benefit from the provision of toilets at the Combe and we are happy to make a contribution that will help keep them open”.
AONB Project Development Officer Andy Mallender said, “If Burrington Combe toilets were to close, not only would it impact on businesses but visitor enjoyment of the Combe as these are the only public toilets in this area. By working in partnership with interested parties there is now a real possibility that with a combination of on site donations and business support for the upkeep of the toilets, they can be kept open”.