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The fight to save Aire Valley public toilets from Bradford Council's axe is heating up with huge petitions being handed in against the planned closures.

The only public loos in Shipley, Bingley and St Ives Estate may be shut next year to save what some have branded "pathetic" and "paltry" annual maintenance bills.

St Ives attracts coachloads of inner city school children and special needs pupils sent there to experience nature. The yearly toilet bill is just £7,200.

"The Council probably spends more than that on balloons for one of its endless City Park parties," said Bingley Rural councillor Mike Ellis.

"It's an absolute disgrace, it's a pathetic sum of money.

"St Ives Estate is an extremely well-used visitor centre and to close the toilets would be an absolute disgrace," Cllr Ellis said.

Friends of St Ives has so far collected 1,200 signatures against the move.

"I've done petitions before, but nothing like this - people are so emotional about it that nobody refuses to sign," said the group's chairman Pam Laking.

"We have a new visitor centre and children come here 30 at a time and use it as a classroom.

"School governors have told me if there are no toilets, the pupils will not be able to visit," she said.

St Ives has an on-line campaign which can be reached via Bradford Council's e-petition website until July 10.

Meanwhile protesters in Bingley and Shipley have now closed their petitions with 2,200 and 1,800 names against closure respectively.

But they are continuing to gather more signatures for paper petitions to be handed in when the matter will be discussed by Full Council at City Hall on July 15.

"In Shipley we are a designated transport hub with a train station and a bus station and what - no toilets?" said traders' spokesman Barry Cooper of Perkins Jewellers.

"The sums they will save are just paltry compared to the city's budget and we have support from the Alzheimers Society, Age UK, Carers Resources, local MP Philip Davies and all the ward councillors," Mr Cooper said.

Paul Smithson, Alzheimer’s Society Services Manager, Bradford confirmed their concerns:

"In order for people living with dementia to live well in their local communities they need access to facilities that they are familiar and could become confused if they find that these have been closed.

"The Alzheimer’s Society has made huge strides recently in encouraging businesses and organisations in the Shipley area to become more dementia friendly and local authority members who are making these decisions need to recognise the impact that this will have on people living with dementia,"Mr Smithson said.

Ros Dawson, chair of Bingley Community Council Group, said there was still widespread disbelief that the such basic amenities could be lost.

"People are just incredulous. It costs just £38,000 a year to run Bingley's toilets and that's only because the rateable value is so high - twice what it is in Ilkley."

"Public toilets are vital amenities and the very least which Bradford Council should provide."