Stalemate reached over Mere's Mouth toilet block future
Stalemate seems to have been reached over the Mere’s Mouth toilet block in Diss.
Both the authorities involved – Diss Town Council and South Norfolk Council - appear to be waiting for each other to act.
Meanwhile, time on the deal to keep the toilets open until the end of September is running out.
It is being argued by the town council that it cannot demolish the toilets because it does not own them and they stand on land leased by South Norfolk from the Diss Parochial Charity.
Early in discussions about the ownership of the toilets, the town council told South Norfolk in April that it could not afford to take them over and they should be knocked down.
After an exchange of statements, with each council reminding the other of its responsibilities, future action appeared to depend on negotiations between South Norfolk and Diss Parochial Charity concerning the lease.
In its statement, the town council said that, as far as it was concerned, the authorities had effectively returned to “mutual obligations” agreed in 2015.
The statement pointedly said that a copy of that agreement could be obtained under a Freedom of Information request. The Diss Express made that request and has obtained copy.
Although the town council leader Julian Mason did not wish to add to the statement this week, one passage in the agreement states: “The council [South Norfolk] shall undertake the replacement of the existing toilets located beside Diss Mere at its own cost.
“Upon completion of the refurbishment works, the council shall transfer ownership of the toilets to the grant recipient [the town council], subject to satisfactory completion of a lease between the grant recipient and Diss Parochial Charity and the termination of the lease between the council and Diss Parochial Charity.
“The replacement toilets will include a mechanism by which the grant recipient may elect to charge the public in order to utilise the toilets.”
South Norfolk responded by saying it had not been told of any change since April. “If the town council has changed its mind and decided to go back on its decision and has now decided that it wants to honour the 2015 agreement, instead of making improvements to the Mere’s Mouth area, the district council will expect it to honour the whole agreement.
“This includes a duty to provide a tourist information service and open the Corn Hall toilets to the public between 9am and 6pm.
“The district council has already provided £400,000 to the town council to make the Heritage Triangle possible. It has now made another £80,000 available to give residents of Diss access to toilets in Mere’s Mouth, as agreed in 2015.”