COUNCILLORS accused Rochford District Council of cutting back costs by passing down maintenance costs of public facilities to a town council.

At a full Rayleigh Town Council meeting last Monday, the council agreed to accept a ten year lease, set out by Rochford Council, to maintain the costs of a new toilet block that will be built next to the current Crown Hill toilets. The estimated cost is £135,000, and it will cost around £25,000 to tear down existing facilities.

Rayleigh councillor James Newport accused Rochford District Council of slashing costs by refusing to refurbish the old toilets, and pressuring town councils to take on maintenance costs themselves.

He said: “Councillor Stanley and I withdrew our votes during the meeting. The council wants to stop the use of the Crown Hill public toilet and build new ones next to it. The old toilets have had a long history in our town and have so much sentimental value. We don’t even know the costs, so now we’re committed to ten years of running maintenance costs of the new public facilities.

“It’s a big pressure for town councils to take on these costs because we don’t have as much resources compared to, say, a district council. It’s absolutely outrageous.”

Another councillor, Chris Stanley, said: “It seems Rochford District Council is trying to cover a budget black hole by forcing the town council to sign a ten-year lease to maintain the running and cleaning costs of the new toilet block. They weren’t very transparent about the costs, we didn’t even know how much it would cost us to maintain the new toilet blocks.

“It was Rochford District Council’s responsibility to maintain public facilities but now the pressure is on us. If we don’t accept Rochford District Council’s proposal to build the new toilets they would strip the old one anyway, so we would have nothing. It’s not statutory law for councils to provide public facilities so they could make that decision.

“I admit that the old toilets do need a revamp but there wasn’t a chance for us to even review that.”

Rochford Council was also contacted for a comment, however they were unable to provide one.