What I am about to suggest will probably send some people into fits of laughter or even spasms of disbelief, but if those people are prepared to look a little closer at this proposal I feel they will see that it does have merits and is well worth, at least, asking the question.
As we all know the Bye Street toilets will be closed from the end of March 2014, this I believe is at great cost to the town as a whole. In these times of cut backs there could very well be a case of looking where money can be saved, and yet do the basic needs and requirements, such as toilet requirements really change based on how much money is in the purse.
I ask the following question of all people, would you knowingly re-visit a town that has limited public facilities, in the knowledge that you may be “caught short” and your only respite would be to purchase something in a place that provided toilets to its paying customers, or would you simply go somewhere else. On that note I will now outline my idea to re-open the Bye Street toilets and pay for their upkeep.
I feel is should be suggested to all of the 104 or so, town traders that they offer a contribution to a fund in order to keep the Bye Street toilets open. Ledbury Town Council have indicated that the cost of this would be around £26,000 per year, work it out for yourself - £26,000 / 104 = £250 per year, or £4.80 per week, and if those traders could be persuaded to make their contribution £7 per week (just £1 per day) it would raise over £37,000 per year, more than enough to maintain the toilets AND employ someone to monitor them, perhaps even the installation of a coin operated system would raise some of the funding which could be then removed from the traders contribution, or perhaps the Town Council would be willing to invest a figure again in order to reduce the traders contribution.
Now I can see a number of people asking why should some of the traders do this as they very well may have their own toilets for their customers and as such can cater for them. This I believe is a very short-sighted view. Let us be honest here the majority of traders in Ledbury rely on passing trade, they rely on the foot fall that visitors produce, so the question needs to be asked why would traders NOT want to encourage people to visit Ledbury, what is the point in having toilets for your customers if there are no customers. The cafes, pubs and restaurants all benefit from the visitors brought into the town by the other shops, and vice-versa as well. If those shops start to close it starts a cascade effect, less shops, less people willing to come to Ledbury, less people needing hospitality etc.
So come on traders start thinking of the bigger, wider picture of the High street instead of the individual picture of your own business. One is insular that helps no one, including yourself, the other helps maintain the viability of what is, after all, a great place to visit and live.
Isn’t it time traders opted in?
Photo Credit: Ledbury Reporter