PENSIONERS waved placards as they staged a protest against council plans to demolish a city centre toilet block – but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Members of the North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention descended on Stoke-on-Trent City Council yesterday to show their opposition to the proposals for Crown Bank toilets in Hanley.
They were supporting a motion to full council from Labour councillor Joan Bell, which called on the authority to refurbish and reopen the facilities.
But despite their backing, the motion was rejected 21 votes to 16 after being opposed by Conservative and City Independent members.
The coalition groups say the toilets, which were closed in November, attracted anti-social behaviour and were not safe to keep open.
But campaigners, including the convention, believe the authority should deal with criminal behaviour rather than simply remove the venue where it occurs.
Member Gay Hoban, from Burslem, said: “I have mobility problems because of my MS and so the Crown Bank toilets were very important to me. I used them all the time, until the council closed them. Since then I haven’t visited Hanley very often, which means I’m not spending money there.”
Chairwoman Janet Smallwood said: “All this will mean is that the anti-social behaviour will move somewhere else, like the bus station. Are they going to demolish everywhere where there’s anti-social behaviour?”
The council plans to demolish the toilet block as part of a £2.5 million revamp of the Stafford Street area. They will be replaced with a pay toilet cubicle.
Cabinet member Jack Brereton told the full council meeting that the council had a duty of care towards its staff, who he said had been assaulted in the toilets. He said: “If we went against the professional advice we’ve received and reopened these toilets we could leave ourselves open to legal action if someone is assaulted again.”
During the debate Labour councillors raised the point that the City Independents had pledged not to close toilets in their election manifesto last year.
But Jean Bowers was the only City Independent to vote in support of the motion.
Following the vote, Mrs Smallwood said: “I’m very disappointed with the result. It just proves that to people don’t count with this council.”