AN UPPER Clatford resident has launched a petition to save a toilet block from demolition.

David Coole has launched a campaign to prevent the George Yard facilities from being torn down and calls for Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) to hold a public consultation on future public toilet provision.

The building company director said: “My decision to launch the petition to save Andover public toilets was borne out of frustration.

“A frustration borne from the widely held belief that Andover and surrounding villages residents have lost their voice on issues that affect their lives, their families and those of tourists and visitors.”

Councillors voted in favour of a planning application to knock down the block last month with only two members opposing the move.

The decision will create five extra car parking spaces and open up the area leading to the High Street.

TVBC say this follows the successful roll-out of the new community toilet scheme, which launched in July last year. Four businesses have agreed to open up their toilets to members of the public without users having to make a purchase.

In return the council will pay each company £1,500 per year.

TVBC closed the block and started the scheme due to persistent problem with drug users.

Mr Coole, who also spoke at the planning meeting, says TVBC has “completely ignored” a government White Paper that gives certain recommendations on provision of public toilets, which states: “Public toilets should be closed only if there is a strong case for it and after extensive consultation.”

The document added councils should the local community when coming up with their public toilet strategies.

It needs at least 1,500 names for it to be debated by full council.

The 57-year-old added: “I would love to see every residents stand up for their rights and sign this petition, so that TVBC seriously addresses the growing drug problem within our community, the public toilets are reopened (and better maintained) and that TVBC agrees to hold an extensive public consultation on the future provision of better public toilets in the area.

“I think this would be a very powerful message to send to TVBC and one which TVBC councillors would be foolish to ignore.”

The petition has over 600 signatures and is open until 15 April.

A TVBC spokesperson said: “We’re aware of the petition that has been registered on Test Valley’s website and are concerned it significantly understates the persistent and very serious drug issues that put public safety at risk and caused injury to a member of staff.

“The leader of the council has corresponded with the petition organisers and we’ve responded publicly to questions about the George Yard toilets and the Community Toilet Scheme.

“This Q&A is available on the council website together with the associated press releases.

“There’ll be a report going to Cabinet on 14 February recommending the demolition of the former George Yard toilets, which have been closed since July 2017.

“The council has introduced a successful Community Toilet Scheme, which offers more toilet facilities with substantially increased opening times.

“As part of this process the council looked carefully at the feedback we received from participating businesses and members of the public. This report will be available on TVBC’s website on Monday 5 February. Preceding the Cabinet meeting, The Planning Committee met on 4 January to consider a request for planning consent to demolish the building. With this consent obtained, this report now seeks authority from Cabinet for the demolition to be undertaken.”

For more information about the petition, click here.