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MP calls for action over Mere's Mouth toilets

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Richard Bacon MP has urged Diss Town Council "to get on with it" when it comes to providing toilet provision in the town.

Mr Bacon said the town council should "face up to its responsibilities" and said he was surprised that the debate over the future of the toilets had caused so much angst.

In an interview with Park Radio, last Friday, Mr Bacon said: "I am simply flabbergasted that such an issue has caused such angst. It is perfectly obvious what needs to happen.

"These are the Mere's Mouth toilets in Diss and it seems to me the local town council should face up to its responsibilities and get on with it.

"There has been an awful lot of whinging about this. It's perfectly obvious what people want. They want to have toilets and want to have access to them.

"If there are problems, whether they are deep structural problems that require huge engineering, although having visited them recently, I have to say it doesn't look like they are about to fall down.

"I am sure there are problems that need fixing, but it looks like they are fixable to me.

"I know that the council has been given a big wedge of money by the South Norfolk Council, in fact several wedges of money, depending on how you count them, and frankly, I think they should just get on with it."

South Norfolk Council had planned to hand over the ownership and running of the toilets in March,

However two surveys highlighted structural problems, concluding the toilet block, has no future without at least £25,000 being spent on underpinning.

According to the district council, money for the provision and running of toilets was included within the £400,000, it gave to the town council to help it fund the construction of the Heritage Triangle.

Three conditions of the money being granted was that the town council take on the responsibility and running of the Mere's Mouth toilet, provide a tourism information service in the town and open up public toilets at the Corn Hall between 9am and 6pm.

A further £80,000 has also been made available to the town council for the provision of toilets at Mere's Mouth.

At a Diss Town Council facilities meeting last week, councillors heard that "new information" had emerged which meant that South Norfolk Council was now in discussions with the landowner, The Parochial Charity, and was "considering its position".

"What we hope is that, in reconsidering, this will now enable us to reconsider our position because, while there are no guarantees until we get the results of their deliberations, if there is an opportunity for us to keep the Mere's Mouth toilets, we would be as delighted as yourselves," Cllr Chris Liggett, told the meeting.

"We are not in a position to have formal input at this stage, so we have to wait for the results of that deliberation."

However, in a statement issued today by South Norfolk Council, cabinet member Kay Mason Billig, said the district council, was in fact waiting for information from the town council: "There appears to be a little confusion about what is happening at the Mere’s Mouth in Diss. To clarify, it has always been the case that any change to the use of the land would require the consent of the landowner. This is not new and the position of the parochial charity has not changed.

"On April 18, the town council, having taken the decision to ask us to demolish the toilet block, decided to investigate the possibility of running a community toilet scheme. The town council also decided to consult residents on the longer term opportunities for the redevelopment of the Mere’s Mouth area, including the future provision of toilets.

"To give the town council time to consult the district council agreed to keep the toilets open until the end of September.

"As far as the district council is concerned nothing has changed. We are waiting to be informed by the town council of their plans for the site. Once we have been informed of those plans, we will then be able to negotiate with the landowners to help make those plans possible.

"What also hasn’t changed is the town council’s obligation to take on the responsibility for the toilets. This was agreed in 2015 as part of a £400,000 grant from the district council to help make the Heritage Triangle project possible.

"The district council has fulfilled its obligation and given the town council a substantial amount of money. We are still waiting for the town council to fulfil its obligations – all of them."

The Mere's Mouth toilets are due to be discussed the full Diss Town Council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.

Diss Town Council has been approached for a comment.

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