Local councillors continue to fight to keep Tenby’s North Beach toilets open to the public.

Pleas for eight Pembrokeshire public toilets at risk of potential closure are to be heard by senior councillors next week.

Due to financial constraints, Pembrokeshire County Council has listed 34 toilets at potential risk of closure if community asset transfers to town and community councils or other sources of funding aren’t agreed, with Tenby’s North Beach public conveniences set to close unless alternative funding streams are identified.

Tenby Town Council has agreed to take on operation of the Upper Frog Street public toilets but has requested to the Local Authority that the operation of the North Beach public toilet is continued by PCC as a ‘special case’.

The Town Council, recently indicated to PCC’s Strategic Project Officer Katie Daly, that it will be in a position to take on the financial cost of the Upper Frog Street facility but not be responsible for day-to-day management.

The town clerk agreed that public cleaning firms he has looked at are similar to Danfo and would be unlikely to take on just one toilet under contract from TTC.

He suggested, like other town and community councils in a similar position, the Town Council fund PCC to pay Danfo to carry on, and was happy to set up a meeting to discuss this.

However, town councillors are standing firm that the North Beach toilets should be kept open under the existing arrangements of PCC, and have formally requested that this be considered as a ‘special case’ - stating that it is ‘vital’ that this beach - one of the most popular beaches in Wales and almost certainly, by virtue of the Harbour and its backdrop, the most photographed - has accessible public toilets.

With the Town Council pointing to the North Beach’s loss of its Blue Flag status, councillors have stated to PCC that it will not be re-established if there are no public toilets.

Other major factors why the Town Council argue that the toilets should remain open, include:

• Accessibility - with support from the Café that operates on North Walk, ‘beach wheelchairs’ for both adults and children are available for members of the public to borrow, which is an incredibly valuable service. However, without a toilet suitable for people with disabilities right next door to where they collect the beach wheelchairs, this service would be rendered pointless. The nearest alternative provision to North Beach Tenby Toilets that can be accessed by anyone with a disability, is on South Beach and is a considerable distance from the North Beach. Butts Field Car Park Toilets are only accessed by a long walk or by scaling very steep steps known locally as ‘heart-attack steps’.

• Major Sporting Events - Both Ironman Wales and the Long Course are launched from the beach right in front of the toilets. The idea that PCC can be major partners in such major events without having public toilets is not credible. North Beach also regularly hosts sailing regattas attracting visitors from all over the country.

• Wellness - North Beach is a magnet for cold water sea swimmers. Tenby Sea Swim Association is over 50 years old and each morning throughout the year, there is a procession of people swimming there. However, amongst those regular swimmers, there are people who do not swim in the winter months, not because of the temperature of the water but because of the lack of toilet facilities. Public open water swimming contributes to the health of the community and requires accessible public toilet provision.

• Affordable Delivery of Free Access - Tenby already has five of its public toilets that can only be accessed by payment, more than anywhere else in the County. Tenby also reportedly has the only two toilets in the County that cover their cost and generate revenue on top. This is on fees paid to enter and not by assigning car park revenue toward the costs. Given that the vast majority of public toilets are fee paying and/or income generating, it does not seem unfair to expect just one beach toilet to be made available free of charge, even if it is only for the summer months. Furthermore, public car parks in Tenby generate very significant resources for the County Council and the Town Council believe it is reasonable that a small proportion of this revenue should be spent on maintaining these toilets.

In conclusion, the Town Council believes that having agreed to bear the additional cost of one public toilet, it is only fair that the burden should be shared and that North Beach toilets be maintained.

“As we have stated, this is about Blue Flag Status, access for people with disabilities, promotion of Pembrokeshire on the world stage and ultimately and critically, fairness to the people of Tenby. We would be most grateful if you could consider this case and agree to continue to maintain toilet provision for Tenby North Beach,” states the Town Council’s correspondence to PCC.

At the most recent meeting of the Town Council, Cllr Sam Skyrme-Blackhall stressed that, if the decision is made that they take on the funding of Upper Frog Street, they need to get the message out there that they are doing this for the town.

She also hoped that PCC would accept the proposal to make the North Beach toilets an exception to their policy.

“If they say no, their reasons will be of interest!” she remarked.

It was agreed that the Clerk arrange a meeting with Ms Daly asap to discuss the next steps.

A plea to save North Beach toilets was also made by Tenby’s North ward county councillor Michael Williams at the meeting of PCC’s Policy and Pre-decision Overview and Scrutiny Committee last week.

Cllr Williams described North Beach as “one of the most photographed areas in Wales” and “the jewel in the crown” of the county’s tourism offer.

“If we close this toilet, it will certainly add to the tarnished impression of the ‘jewel in the crown’; there’s considerable private investment in the area but we are looking to withdraw the only significant we have in the area. I would plead that this facility is maintained,” stated Cllr Williams.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s cabinet are due to discuss the matter on Monday (December 4) with a recommendation to continue to fund for Tenby’s North Beach facility - but investigate income generating opportunities such as charging to use or linking to other sources of funding.