The state-of-the-art toilets causing a bit of a stir

Harlestons new high tech toilet which costs money to use Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Harlestons new high tech toilet which costs money to use Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

It was hailed as a momentous occasion for Harleston and a first for south Norfolk. But a revolutionary 'self-cleaning' toilet block that was opened in the town amid great fanfare was forced to shut within six weeks of opening.

The £100,000 device, at the Bullock Fair, has provoked strong reaction among locals, with many upset at the cost and the 20p charge for using the lavatory.

It was also attacked by vandals, leading South Norfolk Council to close it down while repair work was carried out.

Although it has now re-opened, the block is still causing a stir with residents.

David Newby, 74, of Gawdy Close, said the toilets were a 'total waste of money' and the council should have spent the money on improving the Budgens car park.


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David Bramhall, also of Gawdy Close, added the toilets were a 'tax on people's involuntary natural functions'.

Another resident, Mr Rydell, from Badger Close, asked how the council could justify asking people to pay to use the new toilets when the old ones were free.

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The installation of the self-cleaning toilets in November was the start of a programme by the council to refurbish all of its public toilets in support of its Market Towns Initiative.

The council believes the new facility will help to increase the number of people visiting the town.

A statement for the council said: 'South Norfolk Council is continuing to actively support our market towns and to make sure that Harleston is in the best shape possible to keep attracting shoppers, tourists and businesses now and in the future.

'The council has supported a wide range of initiatives and the new toilets are a part of this support.'

The old toilets – which were built 55 years ago – were not cost-effective according to the council and a modern facility was needed to serve the community for the future.

The council added: 'Although there have been teething problems, this new facility has also been targeted by vandals and it is their actions that have contributed to the temporary closures that have happened since the installation.'

What do you think about the toilets? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk

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