Published: 13:38, 16 September 2020
| Updated: 13:40, 16 September 2020
A resident has accused a town of misleading its visitors by advertising it is "open" when both a key access route and its public toilets will be closed from the end of the month.
Following a move by Kent County Council to close Sandwich Tollbridge for three months for essential maintenance , it has now emerged that Sandwich Town Council could be shutting the doors on its public toilets at both the Quay and Cattle Market.
The authority says its budget does not stretch far enough to keep them open and it does not want to drop it two hourly cleaning standards.
But resident Kath Gifford believes the combination of actions is destroying the town and its businesses, who are trying to find their feet following the Covid-19 pandemic.
She claims its also contradicts the town council's message that 'Sandwich is Open' - as displayed on a banner along the Quay.
She said: "The shops and businesses in Sandwich have only just opened and are endeavouring to get back to pre lockdown days.
"The tollbridge is now going to be closed for almost three months until nearly Christmas and the public toilets are closed for six months.
"What else can they think up to destroy the town for both residents and visitors?
"Perhaps the banners should now say 'Sandwich is closed'?"
Sandwich Town Council explained its lack of funds come from recently dropping the charge for the facilities at the Quay and paying a Dover District Council contractor to open them when its own staff were shielding.
It has also highlighted statistics which show in previous years the facilities on the Quay were sometimes used as little as once a day when the weather was bad.
Despite this, the authority is continuing to explore ways to keep the conveniences open during the quieter months including seeking money from emergency grant pots.
'Perhaps the banners should now say 'Sandwich is closed'?'
A statement said:"The council’s 2020/2021 budget only allowed for these facilities to be open between Easter and the end of September, when they are at their busiest.
"The plan of action had been to open up the downstairs toilets at the Guildhall for use during the winter, which are a much nicer facility than those in the Cattle Market.
"And at the Quay there were various businesses who were happy to have their facilities used by the public. The Cattle Market toilets could have also been opened ad-hoc as required.
"Obviously a global pandemic was not expected and it’s perfectly understandable that business don’t want to offer their facilities to people who aren’t customers at this time.
"Sandwich Town Council has already adjusted the budget once to keep the facilities open until the end of September as originally planned.
"One way to keep the facilities open longer would be to reduce the cleaning frequency, however, the council doesn’t want to be quick to drop high standards of hygiene.
"Cleaning frequency, opening hours and what else could be re-adjusted within the Council’s budget is currently under consideration to keep public conveniences available within Sandwich this year.
"Support from the district council has also been sought and emergency grant pots have been considered.
"Further announcements will follow.”