CAMPAIGNERS vowed "the fight will go on" to save a town centre toilet block after speaking at the cabinet meeting.

Test Valley borough councillors discussed a report on the demolition of the George Yard toilets at the meeting with five members of the public speaking in favour of keeping the facility, including the organiser of a petition, David Coole.

Mr Coole said residents were "extremely angry" over the council's announcement to knock down the block, adding it would be a "grave mistake".

The Upper Clatford resident questioned the authority again over its lack of public consultation, which he said was against government guidelines.

The petition calling to halt the demolition and for the borough council to hold a public consultation on future public toilet provision had nearly 4,000 signatures at the time of the cabinet and nearly 5,000 as The Advertiser went to press.

Mr Coole said: "We urge you to accept the provision of public toilets in the main car parks as part of a broader context of a community-engaged council that is both supporting and enabling its residents to take part and get out and about and is enabling more tourism.

"Hardest hit by the toilet closure are the elderly, disabled, young families, women, those suffering from bladder problems and tourists."

Disabled resident, Jennifer Underwood, spoke of her struggle to use facilities under Test Valley Borough Council's Community Toilet Scheme.

So far under the initiative, 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.

Mrs Underwood said she had visited all the facilities under the scheme, which had all "failed" her.

She said: "I am a proud, independent woman but if I want to use these toilets, I have to sacrifice my pride and independence and ask for help from strangers passing by.

"I cannot enter three of the cafe's and pub without someone opening the doors for me."

During the debate, Councillor Graham Stallard expressed his sympathies for disabled residents, saying he was moved by Mrs Underwood's speech.

However the Anna ward representative noted the "ongoing saga" of the future of the George Yard toilets after two-and-a-half years, adding: "I'm really interested why everybody is here now?

"Where were they two and a half years ago?"

The councillor said residents could have raised questions regarding agenda items in any of several previous meetings involving the public facilities, but that no-one had come forward.

He added: "More people should take more advantage and not leave it to the last minute."

Cabinet members voted in favour of of authorising the demolition of the former toilet block, following the consideration of any petition at full council.

The vote also passed through a recommendation to add £19,000 to the council's capital programme.

After the meeting, Mr Coole said: "The fight goes on to save Andover public toilets.

"You only need to listen to the residents and visitors signing the petition to realise that Andover needs these facilities in the main car parks, and so we will keep on fighting until TVBC listen to us and give us what we want.”