UPDATED: Cash-strapped council spends more than a penny with £17,000 town hall toilet upgrade (From Wirral Globe)
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UPDATED: Cash-strapped council spends more than a penny with £17,000 town hall toilet upgrade
WIRRAL councillors will be spending a penny in style after council chiefs approved spending almost £20,000 on refurbishing town hall toilets.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that more than £17,600 was spent on bringing the first floor toilets in Wallasey “up to a decent standard”.
It comes just months after Wirral Council came under fire for spending £25,000 to replace the carpets on the town hall stairs, which council bosses said were needed due to its popularity as a wedding venue.
The council was also criticised last year after spending £850,000 on a “Downton-Abbey” staircase.
The authority’s assistant chief executive David Armstrong told the Globe the facilities are no longer “members’ toilets” and are used by the general public, although this has been questioned by members of the opposition.
Former Conservative councillor Ian Lewis, who submitted the FoI request, said: “I’m sure the taxpayers of Wirral will be relieved to know this work is taking place and that the council is continuing with the ‘Downton Abbey’ theme of ‘period’ style fixtures and fittings for use by councillors when they are spending a penny.
"This is just the latest in a steady flow of cash with 'no expense spared' at the town hall, following the new staircase, the new lift and the plush carpet on the marble staircase.
"Wirral council really is taking the you-know-what."
Assistant chief executive David Armstrong said: “The refurbishments of the toilets on the first floor of Wallasey Town Hall are part of the same plan of improvements to the building agreed by members in 2012.
“To be clear, they are no longer 'members' toilets' they are - and have been for a number of years - public toilets for the use of staff, visitors and members and have been in need of improvements to bring them up to a decent standard for some time.
“The costs of £9,406 for the ladies and £8,205 for the gents were kept as low as possible by cleaning/re-finishing much of the existing fabric. The tiling was cheaper to over tile than repair.
“It is hoped to gradually refurbish all the toilet areas on a similar basis, given their condition, as cheaply as possible whilst complying with the listed status of the building.”
Wallasey ward councillor Leah Fraser said: "How can the council justify the upgrading of these toilets by saying they are used by the public and visitors when you need a secutiy pass to access them?
"They are clearly toilets for use by political staff and elected members and , like the 'Downton Abbey' staircase, cannot be accessed by the public or visitors.
"While I can't comment on the condition of the men's toilets, I do know that the cost of £9,406 to bring two toilets and hand basins up to date in the ladies is ridiculous - what are they going to be - thrones or perhaps the 'seat' of Downton Abbey?
"Why isn't this Labour-run council putting a stop to this unnecessary spending? They have the power to overturn any previous decision, and when it suits them they often do.
"Their priorities are all skewed - they put upgrading toilets, new carpets and staircases above saving Lyndale School."
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