The historic Marlborough town hall toilets are to be redeveloped and reopened as Edwina Fogg’s final act as mayor.
The toilets served the public since the 1900s and passing travellers were using them decades before the M4 was even built but they were closed by Kennet District Council in 2005 because of budget cuts.
An overwhelming 80 per cent of respondents to the town hall consultation said they were in favour of them reopening and this is now possible under a community asset transfer deal which was sealed at last week’s area board meeting.
To fund the reopening, the town council will be able to sell the Chantry Lane public toilets, which are expected to generate funds somewhere in the region of £150,000.
Coun Fogg, who first raised the issue in her inaugural speech, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the town hall toilets can be reopened, people really miss them.
“When I became mayor I had a lot of people asking me what was going to be done about them and I made a commitment to do my utmost to have ‘Fogg’s Bogs’, as they’ve become known, reopened and it’s been frustrating that it took so long.
“One disabled man told me how difficult it was for him not having a convenient public toilet and he is delighted that we got the money.”
A proviso of waiving the covenant restrictions placed on the Chantry Lane toilets is that the surplus money from the sale is also to be used to upgrade the toilets in George Lane.
The mayor said: “Our two public lavatories are a disgrace and shameful for a town which prides itself on its lovely features and the welcome it gives to visitors.
“I went into the Chantry Lane toilets and they were disgusting. The first one was blocked and there was no toilet seat.”
Once the sale has been completed the town council can make decisions about opening hours and how the toilets will be manned.
“When the town council first expressed an interest in selling the toilets a couple of years ago two people expressed an interest but at that time we weren’t in a position to sell them. It shows that they won’t hang about,” said Coun Fogg, “When they will be open is to be decided by the town council but it’s unlikely that it will be 24 hours. So few towns have toilets open around the clock these days, but all of that needs to be hammered out, everything is on the table.”
The mayor outlined her plans to the town council at a full council meeting on Monday last week before presenting the idea to the last area board before the elections in May.
Chris Humphries, chairman of the Marlborough Area Board, said: “The Chantry Lane toilets are owned by Wiltshire Council and before that they were under Kennet District Council.
“There has been an issue around public toilets for some time.
“There were plans to open toilets with the Kennet Valley Arts Trust theatre but when this failed the mayor put together this proposal and the area board agreed unanimously.”