Civic Centre

That ‘iconic’ place is in the process of considering expenditure of £153 000 to improve the entrance accommodation to include disabled toilets, facilities to avoid queuing etc. However, in Poole’s strategy plan we understand the Civic Centre may be disposed of c2020…so what’s the point in additional expenditure? There’s 3 disabled toilets, extra monies could be spent on additional staffing to avoid the queues and there’s basic facilities and queuing at A&E at Poole hospital. If that’s adequate for us at the hospital- why extra spending on the Civic Centre for possible short term? You may wish to question our councillors… on the wisdom of spending our monies on this potential white elephant!

Public Toilets – Update

Yesterday (Monday 20 February 2017) a meeting was held –known as a ‘Call-In’ at the Civic Centre. It was in response to proposed closure of an additional eight public toilets throughout the borough. I was granted permission to speak to a committee of councillors-5 of whom had a final vote on this proposal. I spoke against closure of Baiter Park toilets and was ably supported by Eunice Marsden who also spoke against closure–an eloquent speaker.

At the end of the meeting a vote was taken -2 opposing closure and 3 supporting it. So, now, Baiter Park toilets will be ‘mothballed.’ However:

  • There are NO adjacent toilet facilities for visitors –the nearest ones will be Whitecliff-15+ minutes’ walk away
  • No account was taken of the medical needs of disabled people –currently there are disabled toilets at Baiter Park
  • Visitors who have travelled far to visit the area will have no idea where toilets are located
  • Visitors to the newly-planted Marie Curie Field of Hope at Baiter park will have no idea where to visit a toilet, despite many of them travelling great distances and dealing with sensitive issues
  • No account taken of sailors who pay £13.50 to park at Harbourside 1 car park and spend long hours at sea, who would naturally wish to use toilets on return to land
  • There are 3 public car parks at Baiter but now no toilet facilities
  • The councillors impressed there is a Community Toilet scheme but the nearest one is along Poole Quay. How will that satisfy the needs of dog walkers who will probably not be allowed to use toilets whilst accompanied by their canine(s)?
  • No account was taken of groups of visitors to Baiter, including The Sunshine Variety Club, Lords Taverner (both catering for severely disabled people) and also large school parties –upwards of 60-100 pupils
  • What about delivery van personnel, postmen/women, taxi drivers who cannot park to use public toilets elsewhere?
  • Baiter Park toilets have a heavy ‘footfall’ yet NO survey has been undertaken to determine how many people use these facilities. I did a sample survey -39 in a 30 minute period+ 4 to use disabled toilets.
  • It is interesting that ALL the beach toilets along the promenade at Canford Cliffs will remain open, despite the one adjacent to the car park at Branksome Chine being only 20m away from restaurant toilets which visitors use –and at a cost of over £30000 to remain open –Baiter costs are £19 000
  • We want to encourage visitors to this beautiful area but is closure of toilets the way to do this?
  • One of the saddest aspects of this ‘fiasco’ yesterday was that NO account was taken of needs of disabled people
  • Just to rub salt into wounds- I requested information of the number of designated toilet areas in the Civic Centre…wait for it – 20! Yes, 20- and most recently refurbished-for 580 employees –a ratio of 1:29. Removal of Baiter Park toilets will ensure a ratio of 0:1000s
  • Finally, two of the five councillors represent our wards- Cllrs Challinor (Parkstone) and Garner-Watts (Poole Town –that includes Baiter). For your information BOTH voted for closure. When an amendment was made to close the remaining 7 and omit Baiter from closure as some of the councillors felt uncomfortable about the situation of Baiter, Cllrs Challinor and Garner-Watts voted AGAINST this proposal
  • …so now we have closure of Baiter Park toilets

Mike Randall

Public Toilets

You may be aware that Poole Borough Council are proposing to close an additional eight toilet blocks across the borough in order to effect savings. One of the toilet blocks identified for closure is at Baiter Park. Whilst appreciating the council has to make savings, I personally believe the closure of toilets at Baiter Park is a backward step. I live opposite the block and in some ways closure of this non-aesthetic block may appear pleasing. However, for the following reasons I will object to it:

  • The council is keen for people to use ‘community’ toilet facilities which is fine in town centres but there are none even remotely close to Baiter
  • It will inhibit usage by elderly, very young and disabled. How removal of such facilities will sit statutorily with disability access would be interesting in a court of law
  • Baiter toilets are one of the most-used toilets in Poole as a result of the huge number of visitors. Where will they be expected to use toilets if they don’t know the area?
  • Sailors launch boats from the slipway (Harbourside 1 car park). They will probably need to use toilets either prior or after sailing
  • Baiter is visited by many school groups. Removal of toilets may cause significant logistical problems (as a former headteacher I am only too aware of this!)
  • We recently agreed to a ‘Field of Hope’ for Marie Curie Charity with planting of thousands of daffodils at Baiter. Large numbers of visitors will make emotional visits, many of whom will travel from afar. The last consideration for them will be to try to find toilets when they don’t know the area

The list goes on…Please remember, when the first round of closures occurred, Baiter wasn’t even a consideration. Where next if another tranche of savings are to be made…? I have contacted all ward councillors for our area and received responses from Cllrs Howell- Poole Town, Cllr Challinor (despite him representing Parkstone and not being ward councillor for Baiter Park) and also Cllr Hadley- Poole Town. I have not had a reply from Cllr Garner-Watts-Poole Town.

A local resident of Whitecliff has had a reply from the ‘Parkstone Ward Team’ – ‘…we are not PROUD of having to make any cuts at all-and didn’t ‘happily’ vote to close toilets. It was with great reluctance and is a reflection of the budgetary pressures we face. And, as I have said, we are doing what we can to keep open toilets and protect services.’

The proposal to close the eight toilet blocks has been ‘called- in’ at a Scrutiny Committee on 20 February 2017 @ 14:00 in the Civic Centre. If you feel as strongly as I do about proposed closure of an additional eight toilet blocks (remember, this is NOT the FIRST tranche of closures –and wonder where subsequently the next closures may occur…) please make your feelings known to our respective ward councillors and attend the meeting. Thank you

Whitecliff Pavilion

Poole Council is keen to develop Whitecliff Pavilion as part of a community hub. I have attended several meetings with the Recreation Development Officer to discuss proposals etc. Development of the pavilion is likely to go ahead, but it is important that residents’ ideas/ suggestions should form part of any final outcome. I mentioned this in a previous newsletter and was contacted by a number of residents who offered thoughts and suggestions. It’s not too late to forward your ideas. A meeting with interested parties has taken place and it would appear that a significant financial investment will form part of any successful bid. If you would like to offer your opinions etc please contact me, committee members or Mr Chris Dear (Recreation Development Officer – We want any development appropriate to meet the needs of residents and visitors, without spoiling the ethos of the area

Whitecliff Pavilion

Recently I met with Chris Dear – Recreation Development Officer for Poole Borough. The council is looking at ways to develop the capacity of the pavilion at Whitecliff, alongside Whitecliff Sports Foundation. Mr Dear is keen to hear residents’ views and ways to maximise usage and potential of the pavilion. It certainly requires internal modernisation and also storage is a big issue. In addition, changing room facilities require improving. Do you have any ideas, suggestions etc how the pavilion can be improved in keeping with demands of the 21st Century? For example –do you think additional catering facilities will attract custom? What about indoor short bowls or the pavilion to be used as a cycle hub? Also, how to improved disabled access. A facility to host events, meetings etc?

This is an opportunity to enhance the pavilion which has served well for a large number of years, but could serve even better. If you have any ideas, could you please forward either to committee members or directly to Chris Dear? This project could be a beacon for other council leisure facilities across the borough Many thanks.