Closure of public access to Green
Dragon toilets in the Bishopric
A notice has just
appeared outside the toilets attached to the Green
Dragon pub in the Bishopric stating that they have
been closed for refurbishment and that public access
to them must now be made through the pub's bar.
Strange as it may seem, the public has a right to gain
access to these toilets from Albion Way without going
through the bar. This results from an agreement entered
into with the Council by the present pub owners'
predecessor King & Barnes in the 1990s.
K&B were allowed to
demolish the existing public toilets in Albion Way to
enlarge the brewery lorry park, in exchange for the
permanent public right to use the Green Dragon public
house toilets which were to have free access from
Albion Way. This agreement still has legal force
with the brewery's successors, Hall & Woodhouse.
The Society is concerned to protect the public's right
to continue to use these toilets and is not happy at
the way this episode is unfolding.
Firstly, the notice
itself is misleading. The toilets have not been closed
for refurbishment. Closure of the public
entrance is at the landlord's request, due to his
concerns at their use by drug users.
The closure - supported by the police
and, it appears, by the Council themselves - is said to be temporary for
six months to enable the interested parties of
brewery, police and Council to "monitor the situation".
This seems to be a
heavy-handed solution to the problem. Why can't
the toilets be inspected every hour to keep
an eye on any abuse of them in the same way that Swan
Walk does so effectively with their public toilets?
The Society feels that the public's rights in this matter
are being disregarded, particularly as the closure has
come just before Christmas - peak time for shoppers
and visitors to our town.
How is the Council going to provide
suitable alternative public toilet facilities at this
end of the town to those people who cannot or will not
venture through a bar to get to them?
What about the long term solution?