Amber Valley firms offered £700 for toilet use

Businesses in Derbyshire are being offered more than £700 to open up their toilets to the public in a move to cut costs.

Amber Valley Borough Council first tried the scheme in 2009 but had to shelve it after a lack of participants.

Two businesses have signed up in Somercotes and it has been running "successfully" since 1 December.

The council said its 14 sets of public toilets cost about £50,000 to maintain and operate each year.

Sharon Thomas, landscape development manager at Amber Valley Borough Council, said the Community Toilet Scheme was put to one side after companies dropped out.

"We also did not get enough of the right type of business coming forward," said Ms Thomas.

"The toilets did not have disabled access or only had one unit.

"We have rolled the scheme out in Somercotes, have one business signed up in Belper so looking to begin that next."

Unsustainable system

Aileen Chapman from QualitySolicitors Chapman and Chubb in Somercotes, said they had not had any problems with people using their facilities.

"We're very much a community-based firm," said Ms Chapman.

"It's also nice to have the £700 and it helps us to maintain our toilets.

"We're also looking at putting in extra facilities such as a baby changing station now."

Amber Valley Borough Councillor Jack Brown, added: "I would appeal to businesses throughout Amber Valley to open their loos to the public.

"We simply cannot sustain a system which subsidises some of our toilets which are hardly used but often vandalised causing even greater cost."

Somerleas Community Centre in Somercotes has signed up and Subway in Belper should be up and running by March.

The authority hopes businesses in the towns of Ripley, Heanor, Alfreton and Duffield will also take up the offer.

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