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Petition launched to protect Branscombe’s public toilets

PUBLISHED: 13:30 29 July 2014

Residents and visitors to Branscombe gathered outside the public loos near the Sea Shanty to protest at their forthcoming closure. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shb 9631-30-14AW

Residents and visitors to Branscombe gathered outside the public loos near the Sea Shanty to protest at their forthcoming closure. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shb 9631-30-14AW

Archant

Branscombe residents are up in arms against money-saving measures that will spell the closure of the seafront toilets.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has voted through the swingeing cut, and the facilities will shut after the summer.

Dozens have already signed a petition against their closure, which residents fear will deter the village’s thousands of tourists who visit every year.

Parish council chairman Tony Johnson, who launched the petition, said: “I think everyone in Branscombe is horrified.

“There’s a huge stretch of Jurassic Coast that EDDC is supposed to be attracting tourists – Branscombe is incredibly dependent on them [tourists].

“If they were closed – it doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Councillor Johnson has distributed petitions around the village and asked anyone unable to sign their name to write to EDDC at its Knowle HQ.

The loos have been offered to the parish council but they cost more than double its £7,000 annual budget.

Paul Rigley, proprietor of the Sea Shanty – which housed the public toilets before EDDC built the current standalone facilities – has also been approached but said he could not take on the costly asset.

He warned that in the winter months, with his business open only at weekends and EDDC’s facilities shut, the public would have nowhere to turn.

The village hall committee funds the next nearest toilets but there is no disabled access, and they are a strenuous 20-minute walk from the beach.

Reverend Nigel Freathy said: “To encourage tourism and then say that there are no public toilets available at a very busy beach is just madness.”

An EDDC spokesman said: “Since this is a private beach and the district council has no other land-holdings in the vicinity, it was considered more appropriate for the toilets to be managed by either the cafe or car park proprietors.

“We have accordingly approached both to check what interest they may have in taking over the running of the toilets after the end of the 2014 summer season.

“In the autumn, EDDC will close the toilets and will consider the options for their future management. We are keeping Branscombe Parish Council informed of developments.”

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