Andover's public toilet facilities have closed because of persistent abuse of the facilities by local drug users.
Replacing the much needed amenities, the new Community Toilet Scheme in Andover has officially begun.
Test Valley Borough Council has been working in partnership with local businesses to establish a pilot toilet scheme where people can use their facilities without an obligation to make a purchase. The scheme, which has proven successful in other towns, follows the closure of public facilities at George Yard which have previously been heavily used by drug offenders.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “The Council took the decision to temporarily close the toilets in George Yard last year in the interest of public safety. We regularly found used needles and other drug paraphernalia left in the cubicles and on one occasion, a member of our cleaning staff suffered an injury caused by a hidden needle.
“Unfortunately, the facilities at Borden Gates were also used by drug offenders and these facilities have been closed for some time. We have been working with the police to try to eradicate the problem, and we employed a security guard to enable us to re-open the block at George Yard to make the public feel safer. The presence of a security guard was always a temporary solution and, in order to carry out our duty to protect the public and our staff, we have now launched the Community Toilet Scheme which is a much safer approach to providing facilities free of charge.
“We have based the concept on similar schemes that have proven to work well in other towns where participating businesses have reported increased footfall and trade as a result of participating. Making use of these commercial facilities also reduces the likelihood of any drug problem shifting to the high street due to a higher public and staff presence. I would like to thank the participating businesses in Andover for their support.”
Costa, Café Nero and The Redbridge have all displayed a sticker in their windows to show that they are part of the scheme. With Costa open from 7am and The Redbridge open until 11pm, the hours of operation have increased substantially from the 8am to 6pm that the Council’s public toilets were open.