A NEW cleaning regime, revised opening times and enhancements to improve safety, are some of the changes to be made to the Market Place public toilets.
Two cubicles, the male and female toilets, will now be open daily from 6am to 7pm; the third cubicle, which is open to all genders and disabled users, will be open 6am to 12.15am Sunday to Wednesday, and 6am to 2.15am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
All cubicles were previously open 6am to midnight.
Electronic locks will be used to close the doors of the toilets at the designated times. However, the lock on the disabled toilet can be overridden by use of a RADAR key – a national key scheme that gives thousands of people with disabilities and health conditions independent access to locked public toilets around the country.
The changes have been made in response to a survey conducted by Melksham Town Council, which they launched following concerns raised about anti-social behaviour and drug use in the Market Place public toilets. It had been suggested that they close from 7pm, similar to other towns in the area, to reduce the unwanted behaviour – but councillors wanted to hear the views of the public first.
A report to town councillors said, “Issues commonly raised were the cleanliness of the toilets, and the message that all users should not be punished by toilet closures due to the anti-social behaviour of a few.
“With regards to the closure times, there were more people that said NO to a 7pm closure than YES, and it was noted that in the evening and at night-time there was nothing else open and available for use.”
Melksham Without Parish Council, who share the maintenance costs for the toilets with the town council, also requested that the toilets stay open late for Bowerhill residents using the evening bus service.
“It was recognised that the bus from Bath arrives in the Market Place a couple of minutes after midnight,” continues the report, “and that on Thursday, Friday and Saturday there was a night-time economy with late opening hours, particularly frequented by younger residents.”
A new cleaning regime, with the addition of the jet wash wand for daily cleaning, will also be introduced.
At a recent meeting of the town council’s asset management and amenities committee meeting, councillors resolved to support the changes.
Other changes agreed include improving lighting in toilets, improving signage on all the toilets, with details of the opening hours, and details about where to get support for homelessness and help for people living with a drug problem; and to make enhancements to prevent drug use in the toilets, including blue lights to deter intravenous drug use.
Councillors also agreed to support an ambition to enter the Market Place public toilets in the ‘golden loo’ national award scheme.