WORK has started in Bingley to re-open public toilets for the town and create new office accommodation for the Town Council.

The new public toilets and offices will be based in the former toilet block in Jubilee Gardens, on Myrtle Walk near to the Arts Centre, which is being converted and re-furbished.

The toilets have been shut for over two years due to Bradford Council budget cuts.

The Town Council, which now runs the building, says work is expected to take 16 weeks and when complete will provide two public toilets accessible to able-bodied people and most wheelchair users.

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The building is being reconfigured to enable some of the space to be used as a small office and meeting room for the Town Council. It will allow the Council to operate in the heart of the town.

Bingley Town Council was invited to take on the running of the town’s public toilets after Bradford Council decided to shut all public toilets across the district, apart from those in City Park. Bingley’s public toilets closed in March 2018.

Councillor Helen Owen, chair of Bingley Town Council, said: “Residents have told us they want Bingley to have public toilets again and we are responding to their wishes. In addition, having well-kept, hygienic facilities will be vital to support our town centre, encourage visitors and enable outdoor activities, like our markets and special events, to take place once it’s safe to do so.”

Bingley Town Council’s plan to re-provide toilet facilities has involved taking responsibility for the Jubilee Gardens site through a Community Asset Transfer from Bradford Council which has granted a long-lease on a peppercorn rent.

There has also been consultation with residents - 80 per cent of respondents to a consultation in December 2018 were in favour of the plans.

The project is being funded mainly through a £163,500 fixed-interest loan from the Public Works Loan Board, repaid at approximately £10,860 per year for the next 20 years.

The cost of running the offices and the toilets are estimated to be £13,000 per annum.

Councillor Richard Holmes, vice chair of Bingley Town Council, who has been spearheading the project: “Using the Jubilee Gardens site to provide both a council office and public toilets is the most cost effective solution.

"It would have been too costly simply to take over the running of the toilets as they were.

“In addition, the Town Council is ensuring the building is put to good use and not left to become derelict. This is an investment in our town’s future and will place the council firmly at the heart of the community.”

The Town Council has also allocated £12,000 to provide a Changing Places facility at nearby Bingley Pool, itself the subject of a Community Asset Transfer by the Friends of Bingley Pool.

A Changing Places facility is large enough to incorporate a hoist system and adult-sized changing bench and is specifically for disabled people who have one or two assistants with them.

Since its formation in 2016, Bingley Town Council has been temporarily accommodated in Cardigan House in Bingley and Cottingley Community Centre. The decision to create office space in the toilets was made after requests to Bradford Council for use of any of its space in Bingley, and efforts to find existing affordable and accessible offices in the town, drew a blank.