Spending a penny will cost you 10p

If you've got to go, you've got to go - but shoppers in Lowestoft are flushed with anger at the prospect of having to pay up when nature calls. Waveney councillors have agreed to splash out £570,000 over the next three years to improve crumbling public toilet blocks, but will also introduce a 10p entry fee to help pay for the upkeep of the new loos.

If you've got to go, you've got to go - but shoppers in Lowestoft are flushed with anger at the prospect of having to pay up when nature calls.

Waveney councillors have agreed to splash out £570,000 over the next three years to improve crumbling public toilet blocks, but will also introduce a 10p entry fee to help pay for the upkeep of the new loos.

Anyone caught short in Lowestoft's Triangle Market or near Southwold Pier will now have to spend more than a penny before they even make it to the cubicle.

And most shoppers said they found the charge anything but a convenience.

Claire Burgess, 21, of Halcyon Crescent, Lowestoft, was with her five-year-old daughter Maci.

She said: "It's not very nice. I don't think anyone would use them if they had to pay. They should be clean anyway."

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Andrew Gould, 57, of Vale Green in Norwich, said: "Being disabled, I have to use the toilets quite often.

"I don't think it is right to charge 10p to go to the toilet, certainly not."

The prospect of crossing her legs while searching for change worried 21-year-old mum Clare Quinn of Clarence Road, Lowestoft.

"There will be queues and people will be chasing around for change," she said. "Why don't the council leave it as it is and spend the money on something for the children instead?"

Dave Wilson, 59, of Hill Road, Lowestoft, who runs the Triangle chip stall in front of the toilet block, welcomed the improvements.

"It will be worth 10p to keep it clean because it attracts drug users and boozers, and it might keep them out," he said.

The toilets at Church Road, Kessingland, and Hungate, Beccles, are also scheduled for refurbishment over the next 12 months, but will remain charge-free.

The improvements mark the second phase of Waveney's plans to overhaul more than 30 public toilet buildings, with coin-operated turnstiles already in place at Lowestoft's East Point Pavilion.

Waveney's portfolio holder for contracts and asset management, Colin Law, said: "There has been an under-investment in public conveniences and we are trying to address it.

"Some will close, some will be refurbished and some will be new buildings.

"We want to provide quality facilities, which have been sadly lacking in the past."

On the subject of the charges, Mr Law added: "If you want a quality service, sometimes you have to pay."

Councils are prevented by law from charging for public lavatories, but the maintenance and cleaning of the buildings at Lowestoft and Southwold will be run by private operators, who are able to charge for their use.