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Council Should Come Clean Over Toilets

Itís getting close to a farce, but the library toilet issue will simply not go away, and it about time the cabinet genuinely listened.

Full marks to them on inviting the protestors to take part in the meetings to air their concerns. But it was a shame they ignored all their pleas.

The word ďconsultationĒ is starting to take on different meanings in this city. The library staff and users want to be asked if they support the principle of new toilets replacing the information centre, and if the information centre should be moved upstairs.

The cabinet seem to think that consultation is something carried out after the central decision has been made. They want the opinion of staff over the logistics of the move.

Consultation, it was proclaimed at one meeting, is not a veto. The information centre staff shall work where they are told. There are no plans to consult the public.

Even some of the other members of the Labour group have not bought this. They told the cabinet to consult staff and the public and then look at the decision again.

Unfortunately, the cabinet agreed among themselves that they had already done this, and pressed on.

The final decision is still in a vacuum. Last month the scrutiny board which is looking at the cabinetís actions on this agreed that it would be a nonsense to press ahead with the work.

They pointed out that although staff consultation has been carried out, no-one actually knows the result of it.

In the meantime, thousands more people are likely to sign the petition led by the indefatigable Messers Moore and Harris.

If the council is keen to enter the brave new world of the new millennium and listen to the people it represents, then it should take this more seriously.

Otherwise we could see another expensive and unpopular white elephant like the Broadgate Canopy and the West Orchards escalator, to name just a couple.

Toilets are desperately needed. But letís not risk alienating people from the library to get them.

The library service already needs £2 million spending on it to avoid failing dismally to achieve national targets, and a drop in visitor numbers could see it becoming the first in the country to be taken over by the government.

Half the city centre is a building site at the moment. The council should be using its weight to ensure that more toilets than are currently planned are put in the Lower Precinct instead.


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CWN / Comment / 2 Nov 00
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