THE future of the public toilets in Tavistock’s Bedford Car Park are now uncertain, after funding pressures have forced Tavistock Town Council to decide against taking them over from the borough council.

Tavistock Town Council was looking into the possibility of taking over both the Guildhall Car Park toilets and the Bedford Car Park toilets after West Devon Borough Council (WDBC) announced its decision last year to devolve responsibility for public conveniences in a bid to save money from its budget.

However, after having nearly £30,000 cut from its own annual funding from central government which is facilitated by the borough council, the town council is no longer in a position to be able to take over both facilities, it said this week.

The public toilets at the bus station were closed by WDBC in April last year, but after huge public unrest, work is now taking place to try to reopen them for public use.

Cllr Terry Pearce, WDBC’s lead member for communities, said: ‘We have been working with the town council on an agreement to transfer Bedford and Guildhall public toilets to them by April 2020. Unfortunately, at this late stage, we have just been informed that the town council no longer wishes to take on the facilities in Bedford Car Park.

‘We will continue discussions in an attempt to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion but, sadly, this may not now be possible as, following an indication from the town council that it intended to take on the facility, we have not budgeted to fund the Bedford toilets from April 2020.’

But the town council said it had only ever made a decision ‘in principle’ to take on the two facilities and with reduced annual funding, it was no longer feasible.

A town council spokesperson said: ‘Having looked in more detail at the available options and the need to mitigate the unexpected loss of income, the town council is working with WDBC to take on the operation of the town’s most heavily used conveniences in the Guildhall Car Park.

It is also providing a grant to WDBC to help it operate public conveniences at the bus station and will continue to keep service provision more generally under review.’

Leader of WDBC Cllr Neil Jory said he was ‘disappointed’ at the town council’s decision and said it had never been the intent for public toilets across the borough to be closed and they were hopeful that the facilities would have been taken over by town and parish councils.

He said: ‘We understand the strength of feeling about public toilets and we remain committed to finding a way for them to continue to be used for the public.

‘It remains our wish that we can work together with borough councillors and the town council to get the best solution for the people of Tavistock.’