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Shutters 'not the solution' to Deal Town Hall toilet problem

Installing electric shutters around the Undercroft beneath Deal Town Hall is not the answer to stop people using the area as a toilet, according to councillors.

In recent weeks town hall staff have been forced to clear up human excrement after members of the public have used the space as a night-time shelter.

This has been deemed “totally unacceptable” by the staff who pointed out that the area is regularly used as an open market with food being sold.

The Undercroft beneath Deal Town Hall. Picture: Google Maps
The Undercroft beneath Deal Town Hall. Picture: Google Maps

Responsible finance office Paul Bone suggested to councillors at Deal Town Council’s full meeting on Monday that electric shutters could be installed, closing the area off at night.

Cllr Dominic Harper (Lab) said: “To do this would be turning our backs on the citizens of Deal.

“To shut it off, it’s basically saying, ‘we don’t want this, let’s move them on to somewhere else’. We should be thinking about how else we could deal with this.”

Mr Bone outlined that the shutters would offer an open appearance with a gate to the side entrance, at an estimated cost of £8,000 to £10,000.

Cllr Harper said: “It’s a considerable sum which could be put towards making somewhere for these people to go.”

Cllr Harper also said how the openness of the area makes the town look more welcoming.

Cllr Bob Frost (Cons) said: “It’s been open for 200 years. I would not like to see it closed off for a few people who were a blip in the history of this town.”

He suggested putting in CCTV and replacing the benches to ones which are designed for sitting only, similar to those in Dover High Street.

The Undercroft is used for events and markets
The Undercroft is used for events and markets

Cllr Ben Bano (Lab) said: “I do take on board Cllr Harper’s point. It’s part of the street scene. We do not have enough information to make a decision. We need to look at the scale of the problem.”

Cllr Trevor Bond (Cons) said: “I think we should avoid putting shutters up if we can. It seems the problem is only with a few individuals. The police are already working on it.”

Town clerk Lorna Crow explained it was not just a few individuals, it is an “ongoing problem.

She highlighted that aside from the area being used as shelter, it is also frequently urinated in and always has to be hosed down before the markets.

Mrs Crow has also spoken to PCSOs who said that the installations of shutters would be of benefit to them as it is an area frequented by youths causing anti-social behaviour and damage.

It was agreed that Dover District Council would be approached for advice.

Cllr Trevor Bond said: “We will then be able to see whether or not it’s possible.”

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