Seaton’s Underfleet toilets saved from demolition

Campaigners flushed with success after council u-turn over ‘much needed’ loos

COUNCIL leaders have agreed not to pull the chain on Seaton’s Underfleet toilets.

In a dramatic u-turn, they have revoked an earlier resolution to demolish the loos, to make way for a “public realm” development.

Yesterday’s decision, by East Devon District Council’s Cabinet, comes after protests from civic leaders, tourist chiefs and residents.

They warned that the loss of the toilets, near the town’s busiest visitor car and coach park, would “flush tourists away”.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, district council leader Paul Diviani, said: “We have listened to the people of Seaton and we have accepted their view that these toilets should be retained. We also appreciate the offer of Seaton’s mayor that we ‘only need to ask’ the town council for assistance in maintaining the toilets.

“In line with the partnership arrangements we have established with other town councils, including Sidmouth and Exmouth, we will be actively pursuing the option of passing on these toilets and their maintenance to Seaton Town Council.”

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Seaton’s three district councillors echoed the views of several residents who spoke at the meeting, highlighting the need for the toilets to be retained as an amenity for locals and visitors.

Councilor Jim Knight said, in a statement. that adequate toilet provision was needed for the benefit of local people, visitors and local businesses.

Seaton Champion, Councillor Mrs Steph Jones, raised concerns about the potential inadequacy of toilet provision in Tesco’s and the proposed visitor centre.

When the demolition of the toilet block was first agreed, the plan had been for toilet provision to be contained within the new store and in the proposed visitor centre building.

Responding to local concerns, a report before Wednesday’s meeting had proposed extra options such as a new block of toilets in the long-stay car park, a temporary toilet facility on the former Tourist Information Centre site or a Portaloo in the same location.

In the event, the Cabinet decided that the existing toilets should be permanently retained, and kept open during construction works on adjacent sites.

It will also be asking Seaton Town Council to take over responsibility for the toilet block at the earliest opportunity.

Seaton Mayor Peter Burrows welcomed the decision as a victory for people power.

He told The Herald: “It is fantastic. I was told by Chairman Peter Halse when he visited Seaton that the new council were listening and after Wednesday’s decision I think they are. I hope it will continue and we can work together for the good of Seaton.”