When Town Councillors were considering this issue – and the costs involved – it seems that the budget figures they used were slightly dubious.
At last night’s (24 April) annual ‘Town Meeting’, a local resident questioned the projected costs for the upkeep of the public loos. She asked whether it was true that the dedicated ‘toilet clerk’ would have been paid the equivalent of about £65 thousand per annum (dubbed 'the best paid job in Ledbury').
Additional costs which she argued shouldn’t have been added to the toilet budget included:
- £8 thousand for a parish ‘referendum’
- £2 thousand for unspecified ‘one off costs’
- £2 thousand per annum for the Town Clerk’s time to administer them - even though her salary had already been accounted for in full elsewhere, and the toilet clerk would be working one day a week in support.
‘If the Town Council wanted to kill off the proposal to take over the toilets with exaggerated figures, they could not have done a better job’, she added.
At a whopping £38,500 per annum, Ledbury’s conveniences look like being among the most expensive places to spend a penny in Britain. It would have cost Ledbury Town Council almost twice as much to run one toilet block as it has cost Herefordshire Council, using external contractors, to run two.
Responding to strong criticism at the meeting in his handling of the budget, Finance Chairman Cllr Clive Jupp said the figures were ‘hypothetical’ and put together in good faith based on available best estimates.
In scenes reminiscent of the French satire, Clochemerle, a majority of Town Councillors took fright at such exorbitant costs at their December 2013 meeting, voting to sit on the proposal. And with that, the lavatory doors finally clanged shut.