Funding finally solves Buckingham’s toilet problem

Robin Stuchbury at Cornwall's Meadow and Shopmobility cabin, the site of the proposed new toilets in Buckingham.
Robin Stuchbury at Cornwall's Meadow and Shopmobility cabin, the site of the proposed new toilets in Buckingham.

New public toilets will finally be built in Buckingham after a £230,000 grant was handed to the town council.

The loos will be located in Cornwall’s Meadow at the Shopmobility site, which will also be transformed from a temporary to a permament structure.

They will consist of one unisex, one disabled and one ‘changing places’ toilet for people with severe physical and learning disabilities.

It is hoped they will be open by the start of the summer holidays.

There has been a long wait for new public toilets in Buckingham, dating back to 2011 when councillor Robin Stuchbury first proposed the idea.

The main stumbling block has been over where the toilets should be located. Now that has been agreed, Aylesbury Vale District Council has given money to Buckingham Town Council from the New Homes Bonus fund – money given to the authority by the government for allowing new homes to be built.

The town council will oversee the toilets. It has not yet decided whether to a charge a small fee for their use.

Mr Stuchbury said: “This is good news, it has taken a long time to get to this point. It was a pain getting there. It went through many proposed sites and areas and reasons why not, but we finally have got to where we need to be.

“I hope it will make Buckingham a much more pleasant place to be around.”

Mr Stuchbury said ‘lobby’ toilets were no longer fashionable due to safety and crime prevention reasons.

“We can’t do the old fashioned ladies and gents.”

There are currently two toilets in Moreton Road, which are overseen by the district council. Mr Stuchbury hopes these will remain open.

“The district council has not said it is getting rid of them,” he said. “It would be most regrettable if it chooses to no longer provide them.”

Howard Mordue, AVDC cabinet member for finance, resources and compliance and a Buckingham councillor, said: “These toilets have been on the cards for a long time. They are expensive toilets but all things these days cost a lot of money.”

He added: “We are one of the few districts to pass money on to the parishes. We keep a proportion and we pass on about 20% to the parishes who bid for the money.”

A total of £1,114,826 was given to six projects across Aylesbury Vale.

Buckingham Town Council also won £46,000 towards the refurbishment and extension of the Embleton Way Pavilion for use as a Scouts HQ and community facility.

However, it was unsuccessful in a £150,000 bid to purchase an industrial unit to store its maintenance equipment.

Mr Mordue said: “These funds make such a difference in helping projects around Aylesbury Vale to improve facilities in our local communities. Whilst funding is guaranteed for 2016/17, grants beyond this depend on central government’s decision on the future of the New Homes Bonus. I would encourage those who are interested to come forward now and see if AVDC can help.”

Mr Mordue said the council’s view is that it would be wrong to take away the funding, given that the district takes the ‘bulk of the housing’ compared to other areas.