Scores demonstrate against Ore and Harold Place toilet closure plans

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.
Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.
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Scores of residents in Ore staged a demonstration on Saturday (February 4) in protest at the council's proposals to close the village's public toilets.

Around 60 gathered outside in the pouring rain waving placards. Hastings Borough Council is proposing to shut the facilities in Ore, as well as those in Harold Place.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

The council is also considering introducing three seasonal closures of the public conveniences at Alexandra Park Bowls, Rock-a-Nore, and in Falaise Road.

Stephanie Gaunt, president of Hastings Ore WI, who organised the protest, said: "We acknowledge that the council has got to cut services in response to the savage cuts to its budget imposed by the current government.

"Although we deplore the closure of any toilets, we have a particular concern about Ore. Ore is a deprived area of the town, and has a strong community identity. The toilets are a valuable community resource.

"They have recently been refurbished, are relatively inexpensive to maintain, and apparently attract little anti-social behaviour. Most importantly, there are no alternative toilet facilities within easy walking distance, and certainly no facilities for the disabled.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

"Many people walk some distance to Ore Village to shop, it is a key bus interchange, and there are a number of schools nearby. Many elderly people also live in Ore. The toilets are essential for all these groups.

"We urge the council to change its mind about closing these toilets."

Cllr Michael Wincott, who represents Ore on the borough and county councils, said: "While I appreciate that central government has cut Hastings Borough Council's grant year on year by hundreds of thousands of pounds, closing Ore's toilets would be a dreadful and shortsighted decision.

"We have a busy shopping area used by locals and visitors alike. The village has no properly accessible facilities nearby so a closure would disadvantage vast numbers of people.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

"If you're a summer tourist to the town staying at the camp site near the country park, where would you go? If you're disabled, infirm or elderly, where would you go? If you're a bus driver, taxi driver or delivery driver, where would you go?

"We need to encourage the use of local shops or we'll lose them. The council must realise having good facilities near our shops makes good business sense and will bring more money into the town.

"I am 100% against this closure proposal."

Tina Graham started a petition on www.change.org in protest at the proposals. More than 1,100 have so far signed it.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Cllr Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “The grant the council receives from central government for providing local services has been cut by £2.1m this year.

"Even with efficiency savings, income generation and use of reserves, it's difficult to cover a gap that size without cutting services.

"Toilets are one of the most costly services the council provides; we maintain 16 public toilets across the borough.

"We are consulting on the potential closure of two of these, but will look carefully at all the consultation responses before making a final decision."

To sign the petition, click here.

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Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

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Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.

Ore public toilet protest, Saturday 4th February.