Upon invitation of the Chair, the Group Head of Technical Services introduced the report, and explained that across the UK there were insufficient accessible toilets. Changing Places toilets included additional space and specialist equipment. Within the District there were currently 2 such facilities, which were at the Aldingbourne Trust Country Centre site and the Council’s Wave leisure centre at Littlehampton. The government had recently made available some funding that local authorities could bid for to provide additional Changing Places toilets – up to £40,000 per location. The Government had indicated that there may be just over 2 Changing Places toilets worth of funding available in Arun. The funding guidance pointed to priority being given to locations that facilitated a day out. With limited time to prepare the bid, the focus had been on identifying sites in Bognor Regis as one of the largest towns in the district, and Arundel as a visitor destination. The organiser that assessed the bids had suggested consultation should be undertaken with disability groups to inform the locations within the bid. Other areas of importance were geographical spread; preference for Partnership funding, being close to carparking, using existing buildings where possible, ideally in managed locations that facilitate days out. 10 groups had been consulted, with 6 returns and follow ups. A special thank you was given to the Aldingbourne Trust who had provided some useful operational insight. Due to the deadline, the usual consultation process and taking the proposal to Committee had not been possible, which was why the limited consultation had been followed.
The Group Head of Technical Services explained that there had been a slight change to the Officer recommendations. This now included a fifth site at Rustington, for which Arun would submit a bid on their behalf, but delivery and ongoing management costs would be borne by Rustington Parish Council. If all 5 bids were successful there would be 7 Changing Places toilets across the District. The Levelling Up Fund bid also included provision for Changing Places toilets at Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. If both bids were successful they would look to divert funding from the Changing Places toilets at the Regis Centre and Littlehampton Coastguard site to other locations in the District. If all 5 Changing Places toilet sites were successful in bidding there would be a cost commitment from the Council across a 10-year period of over £440,000. Those 5 sites had the approval of the target user group and were deliverable. The sites were The Regis Centre in Bognor Regis, Arundel Wildlife and Wetland Centre, Hotham Park in Bognor Regis, within the Coastguard public conveniences at Littlehampton, and the Street public convenience in Rustington. 3 of the 5 would be delivered directly by Arun, the other 2 would be delivered by Partners. The bid assessors would choose how many and which they will select to support.
Members took part in a full debate where they welcomed the contents of the report. The following points were raised:
· Could the disused toilet site in Wick be sold to provide a source of capital funding to help with the Changing Places toilets.
· The Changing Places toilets in the Wave would benefit from signage pointing to these from the beach.
Councillor Roberts wanted to see an additional Changing Places toilet in Arundel in addition to one at the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre, as this was some distance from the town centre and the train station. He then Proposed an amendment to the recommendations to include a sixth Changing Places toilet in the bid which would be in Arundel. His amendment was as follows:- recommendation 1 to change from 5 to 6 additional Changing Places toilets; recommendation 4 to be changed to a virement of £157,000 (if all 6 bids are successful); recommendation 5 part 1 the figure would increase to £157,000, and part 2 would be an additional £4,200 per toilet for four toilets. This amendment was Seconded by Councillor Staniforth.
The amendment was debated and the following points were made:
· Several Members expressed their support for the amendment.
· Would visitors need to pay to use the Arundel Wildfowl and Wetland Centre Changing Places Toilets if this was approved. The Group Head of Technical Services confirmed they would not.
· Changing Places toilets were essential, and it was critical they were placed where they were required.
Following a vote, the amendment was declared CARRIED.
Members (and a non-Committee Member given permission to speak by the Committee) then moved back to debate the substantive recommendations and the following points were raised:
· Aiming for 6 Changing Places Toilets was ambitious, there was a need to think about how the Changing Places toilets were fairly allocated throughout the whole district, which it was felt these 6 would. There may be other opportunities in the future to look at more.
· Care should be taken that the location for the Littlehampton site would not impinge on the remodelling of the sea front.
· Clarification was sought around the location of the Hotham Park site location.
· Clarification was sought around the maintenance and cleaning of the Changing Places Toilet in the Regis Centre.
The substantive recommendations were then Proposed by Councillor Edwards and Seconded by Councillor Staniforth.
1. The submission of the Expression of Interest for funding of six additional Changing Places Toilets within the district be endorsed.
2. In the event the Council is successful in obtaining government funding for Changing Places Toilets, authority be delegated to the Group Head of Technical Services to accept the grant.
3. In the event the Council is successful in obtaining government funding for Changing Places Toilets, authority be delegated to the Group Head of Technical Services, in consultation with the Chair of the Environment & Neighbourhoods Committee, to submit any necessary planning applications.
4. A virement of up to £157k (if all 6 bids are successful) from the capital programme for toilet refurbishment for match funding of the bid be approved.
5. A recommendation be made to the Corporate Policy and Performance Committee that, in the event that government funding is awarded for Changing Places Toilets:
o that the capital programme for toilet refurbishments is increased by up to £157k (depending on the amount of match funding required for the Changing Places Bid) to allow the existing programme to be delivered in 2022/23.
o An additional £4,200 per toilet is included within the revenue budget (for a maximum of four toilets).