THE county council has come under fire for failing to maintain public toilets.

At Monday’s meeting of Haltwhistle Town Council, councillors expressed anger that Northumberland County Council spent just £1,000 on upkeep for the town’s public toilets during the summer months – half the cost the town council plays for the winter months, when the toilets are closed.

The toilets are situated at the Co-op car park, next to the town’s library.

Upon viewing the figures, the council’s chairman, Alan Sharp, said: “We pay £2,000 to do it in the winter.

“At the moment, they spend £1,000 in the summer. I’m not surprised we have problems keeping them clean.

“It’s not a statutory responsibility on the county council to keep that toilet open.”

The town council has expressed an interest in taking over the toilet block as a community asset.

However, there are concerns that the poor state of the block could cost the council thousands to maintain and modernise.

Coun. Sharp continued: “We need to ask the council to confirm that business rates would not be payable if we got on with this project.

“We would also like an independent building survey done.”

Coun. Graham Ridley said: “I think it’s a considerable project.

“We need to be clear to Northumberland County Council that the building needs to be up to scratch before we take it on.

“Can we write to MP Guy Opperman and ask if they can make it mandatory for councils to maintain public toilets?”

The council agreed to write to Mr Opperman and the county council, and ask for an independent building survey to be undertaken on the block.

The issue has been raised before, with the toilets branded a disgrace by residents last year. The county council said that it had regular discussions with the town council about the toilets.