Markeaton park toilets and former sex meeting place are set to be shut once again
PLANS to close one of three sets of toilets in Markeaton Park have been revealed.
Derby City Council leader Paul Bayliss said the closure of the block at the Ashbourne Road entrance was needed to save money in the face of cuts to the authority's grant from the Government.
But he added he had also been lobbied by councillors who feared the toilets would be once again be used as a place for people to meet up and have sex.
However, Derbyshire police said they had received no reports of this since the toilets reopened following a refurbishment in January last year.
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Mr Bayliss said he would not be drawn on whether it was the need for savings or the criminal activity that had played the larger part in the closure decision. But he said: "The council ward members have been lobbying me to get them closed."
Asked if there was an issue with policing the toilets, Mr Bayliss said: "There's no issue with policing as far as I'm aware.
"I took the views of the local councillors and local people and did not choose to ask the police on this occasion."
The toilet block was closed for three years until last January, after the administration at the time, a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition, decided to refurbish them at a cost of £41,000.
Labour councillor Paul Pegg, who represents Mackworth ward which lies near the toilet block, said residents and the police had lobbied the council to knock the building down prior to the refurbishment.
He said: "We never wanted it reopened in the first place. The toilets had been advertised throughout Europe on the internet and in magazines as a place for various sexual activities."
Philip Hickson, leader of the council's Tory opposition, said the authority had decided to reopen the toilets as "they were a much-needed facility for park visitors".
He said: "Having spent the money on refurbishing the toilets it seems ludicrous to shut them again. It's just an act of political spite."
One regular park visitor, Amanda Burton, of Allestree, said she took her son, Nathan, four, and daughter, Imogen, five, to play there and was concerned about the closure.
She said: "It could be a bit of a trek for mums to take their children down to the car parks which are open."
The council says it must save £62 million over the next three years.
It plans to close the toilet block by the end of March which, along with the closure of another in Nottingham Road at the same time, would save it £55,000 a year in upkeep costs.
This would leave Markeaton Park with toilets at Mundy Play Centre and the Craft Village.