An amended ‘call-in’ on Pembrokeshire County Council’s recently-approved toilet strategy was narrowly backed at a special meeting.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet approved the Local Toilet Strategy 2023 – required under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017 – at its April meeting.

It is intended to help address the current challenges faced by local authorities in continuing to sustain provision during times of substantial financial pressures.

Although not connected to the toilet strategy recently passed, concerns had previously been raised about the potential closure of some toilets in the county.

A report heard at the February meeting of Cabinet listed 30-plus toilets at potential risk of closure if community asset transfers to town and community councils weren’t agreed, or funding streams not identified.

It was later agreed money from the second homes element of council tax would provide a lifeline for these toilets, up until November, while negotiations with stakeholders including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park continue.

It also included those toilets alredy in negotiations having a stay of grace until the end of the financial year, and the option of further discussions about potentially keeping open toilets where a strong case was identified.

Included in the strategy is the ability for the council to close some toilet facilities where alternative funding, including other public bodies, cannot be found but it is stressed this would be a last resort.

Just days later, on April 27, Councillor Huw Murphy, with the support of his 16 fellow Independent Group councillors gave notice of the call-in request, which was heard at the council’s Extraordinary Policy and Pre-decision Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

He said the toilet strategy is flawed; the short timescales allowing insufficient time for the national park, community and town councils and other interested parties to take over responsibility for the toilets listed for potential closure, suggesting an extension of the period of grace to March 31, 2025.

The call-in also cited a 2,200-strong petition made by a Pembroke resident calling for a formal review of Pembrokeshire’s public toilet strategy.

At the meeting, Cllr Rhys Sinnett said the strategy was not one of widespread toilet closures, but said an extra year’s moratorium on public toilets would add an estimated one per cent to the council tax bill.

Following a lengthy discussion at the May meeting, Cllr Murphy agreed to a compromise amendment to his ‘call-in’ back for Cabinet reconsideration; with a moratorium date of March 31, 2024, allowing a full cost examination and external discussions, which was supported by five votes to three, with five abstentions.

A similarly-worded notice of motion before the May 11 meeting of full council was withdrawn.