HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition against removing toilets from Barton beach after claims that their closure during the pandemic has led to the beauty spot being blighted by human waste.
Beach hut owners claim that visitors have been seen “urinating and worse” and that human excrement and baby wipes, soiled nappies and used tampons are being left among rocks on the shore.
The toilets were closed in March 2020. Now NFDC is considering getting rid of them permanently at a cost of £30,000 saying that the 10-year-old prefab block was only meant to be temporary and has reached the “end of its life span”.
A council spokesperson pointed out people can still use the toilets 300 metres away in Barton Court Avenue, and said there had been no complaints in the last six months about human waste there. Options for the block are still being drawn up.
But angry beach goers want them to stay and claim that people who are older, disabled or very young will struggle to get to the alternative facilities in time as they lay at the top of a steep path.
Hut owner Claire Masser said: “How do they expect them to get to those? The answer is that many won’t.
“Since the toilets were closed, I have found all sorts behind my hut, as have others.
“We are talking about human waste, used nappies and tampons. These are also being
left behind rocks on the shore.
“It is just disgusting and a health risk. The money the council are spending on demolishing the toilets should be spent on refurbishing and opening them.”
Rosemary Owen, who also owns a hut, said: “The toilets are vital for those with small children and, to be honest, everyone else. When I go to my hut now, I can’t bear to look behind it, frightened of what I might find.”
Beach hut representative Melanie Swain told the A&T: “Quick and regular access to the beach toilets means the beach is accessible to all, including the old, pregnant women, the disabled and families with young children.”
She said an elderly relative who loves visiting the beach “simply would not be able to climb the steep-zig-zag so she would have to stay at home”.
Ms Swain also pointed out that as travel overseas is unlikely this year, the beach will be busier than ever leading to “more human waste and a very real public health issue”.
The hut owners, who pay around £700 in rent to NFDC, say they have complained but have received no response so far.
Local district councillors Alan O’Sullivan and Keith Craze are backing the fight against the closure.
Cllr Craze told a meeting of New Milton Town Council this week: “The thought of people having to struggle up the path to use the toilets on the clifftop doesn’t bear thinking about.”
Cllr O’Sullivan told the A&T: “It is a mistake for NFDC to do away with these toilets. They need to be refurbished and opened up or replaced.”
A spokesperson for NFDC said a task group of councillors will be carrying out a “full evaluation” of the situation at a meeting at the beginning of March.
She added: “We are currently unable to open this block in a Covid-19-safe way. Out of our 23 public toilets we have two which cannot be opened at the moment and therefore we have asked for a councillors’ task and finish group to look at the options available.
“The toilet block (on the beach) is close to the toilets in Barton Court Avenue that were refurbished in 2015 at a cost of £250,000.”