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Inquiry into toilets fiasco

AN INQUIRY is to be held into the building of public toilets in Aldershot's Manor Park after Rushmoor councillors admitted a series of blunders had made the project an "embarrassment".

On March 12 they heard how the £190,000 toilets opened late, over budget and inaccessible to disabled users.

A report scrutinising management of the toilets and focusing on those issues should be ready in June.

Labour member Terry Bridgeman said problems with building projects had only emerged since the council had started to use outside contractors to do the work, because councillors lost sight of what was happening.

He condemned the Manor Park toilets, stating: "We found the project was over budget and overdue, and then we had the realisation that disabled people couldn't open the door.

"It has caused a lot of embarrassment to the council, which is usually very good with this sort of thing.

"Because this one went belly up it is the best example from which to learn lessons."

On March 13 Labour's Cllr Mike Roberts, who has also been critical of the toilets, said he was pleased to know future projects could benefit from the inquiry into why they were delayed.

"I welcome that (the report) because the policy review panel are doing their job," said Cllr Roberts.

"When an error like this has been acknowledged it is only proper that they scrutinise it and scrutinise it hard, as I would say."

He added: "It hasn't shown the council, in any degree, to have done a good job on this.

"I think what we have to have, on these occasions, is transparency.

"In a situation like this we have to say it hasn't worked but here is why it hasn't worked, and let people know what we are going to do about it.

"I think there are some really fundamental lessons to be learnt from this."

Panel chairman Cllr Rosemary Possee said on March 13: "A lot of councillors are not satisfied and want to know what happened.

"It didn't look good on anyone's part and Cllr Bridgeman was absolutely right to ask for the report.

"We want to have something we can look at and say: ‘Look, we have got this as a result which can be used in the future to avoid something like this happening again'."

After initial concerns over the high cost of the facilities, plans for the separate male and female toilets, both with baby changing facilities, and a separate facility for the disabled were approved.

In October it was announced the toilets would cost Rushmoor £30,000 more than planned.

Further rows followed due to severe construction delays on the project.

The final blow came when the News reported how a wheelchair-bound woman with multiple sclerosis had to be freed from the cubicle by a cleaner because the lock on the door was too high for her to reach on her own.


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