A campaign has started to save threatened public loos at a popular beauty spot.
The toilet block at Harden’s St Ives Estate is facing closure by cash-strapped Bradford Council.
Opponents fear the move would have a massive impact on the site, which draws thousands of visitors a year.
An online petition has been set up.
Pam Laking, of the Friends of St Ives, said countless improvements have been carried out – in conjunction with the Council – at the estate, which have helped boost the popularity of the area.
“When the Friends group was initiated by the Council one of the main aims was to greatly increase visitor numbers and that has been achieved,” she said.
“Many mainstream and special needs schools view the estate as an educational base and tool, and a number are from inner-city areas where the children do not experience the countryside in their everyday lives. Teachers say that what their pupils learn at St Ives is invaluable.
“None of these groups could manage without the toilets.
“Many of our visitors are in the older and younger age ranges, who tend to need to use the loos more frequently.”
Mrs Laking acknowledged there are businesses based on the estate but she said they could not be expected to open up their facilities to anyone other than customers.
She added: “We do have some sympathy with the Council, as we appreciate that its funds are very limited and that it is impossible for it to sustain everything. But for the relatively small amount of money it costs to keep these toilets open, we feel it’s important that the Council should do so.
“The toilets are not abused by the public and do not suffer from vandalism or graffiti, so simply have to be cleaned and opened and closed.”
Among those backing the campaign is Bingley Civic Trust.
Chairman John Findlay said: “It would be a great pity if the toilets were not retained.”
Earlier this year the Council earmarked several public toilets for closure to help save cash. They included ones in Central Park, Haworth, which were subsequently given a reprieve following opposition.
Steve Hartley, the Council’s interim strategic director for environment and sport, said: “We understand deeply-felt concerns about this issue but it is one of the many difficult choices that we have had to make to find £115 million in savings over the next three years as a result of national cuts in council funding.
“The Council has allocated funding to provide public toilets at City Hall and City Park in Bradford, Ilkley central car park, Ilkley Riverside, Haworth Central Park, Baildon, Saltaire and the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth.
“However, budgets have been devolved to area committees so they will have the final say on how their budgets are allocated. We hope that either parish or town councils or community groups can consider taking over public toilets in other parts of the district but if this is not possible, they will no longer be available.”
- The sign the online petition go to http://chn.ge/1kWvLF8.