Disgusting, detestable and deplorable. That was the verdict of MP Helen Grant and Stan Forecast, Maidstone Borough Councillor (MBC) for Allington, Maidstone, after a visit to inspect the public loos at the Mid-Kent Shopping Centre two weeks ago.
According to local people the onsite toilet facilities have been in a very poor state and condition for a long period. They raised the issue with Cllr Forecast, who brought in local MP Helen Grant to work together on getting the situation rectified. The centre is owned by LCP Properties although the toilet facilities have been owned by the council since 1970 and are the only council owned toilets in the borough that aren’t located at a park.
Helen and Stan visited the site and spoke with local businesses on Saturday June 10th, where the onsite Waitrose store manager confirmed that the toilets have been an issue since his appointment over four years ago.
They gained widespread support to attend a roundtable discussion on how to fix the problem, which took place last Friday (16th) together with other local ward Councillors.
At the meeting it was agreed, subject to contract, that the council will pass ownership of the toilets to the landlords on the condition that no extra cost is passed onto local businesses. It was further agreed that temporary CCTV surveillance will be installed from early July by MBC’s community protection team to deter anti-social behaviour, and renovation of the toilets (including a deep acid clean) by MBC will take place within the coming month.
Helen said ‘I was absolutely disgusted with what I saw in those toilet facilities. My staff took pictures, but I am afraid I have decided not to publish most of the images because they are so detestable. On a commercial level, this problem deters people from going to what is a great food and retail complex, the success of which is crucial for the local economy. I was therefore pleased with the action plan agreed at the meeting and hopefully we will see the situation sorted out very shortly, for the long term’.
Stan forecast said “This has been deplorable situation. The toilets have been a carbuncle in an otherwise delightful local community setting. I believe it has also impeded some great local businesses, like Aunt Sally’s and Boyce’s bakery, from reaching their full potential. I am thrilled that a strong and appropriate action plan has been agreed, finally resolving a long-term issue which is great news for residents and the local economy.”