Tory Toilet Block Plan shows they put locals last

by jackdavies on 13 May, 2021

Even before the plans were announced for a renovation of the dilapidated public toilets on Lymington Quay, there was a feeling among locals that the Conservatives cared more for the thoughts and feelings of visiting yachties than the opinions of life-long local residents. Since the public meetings at the Community Centre where it was revealed that the only choice afforded to locals was the materials used and the shape of the roof, that feeling has only grown.

This feeling isn’t a new phenomenon. The addition of new pontoons to the Quay by the Harbour Commissioners was met with concern from local residents who felt that the Quay should be for the public and not for the leisure boaters. After all, we have the pontoons for the leisure boaters further down at both the Yacht Haven and the Marina.

It is no surprise that the visitor moorings have been extended to the Quay when you consider the number of Conservative Councillors who are members of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, and therefore use the pontoons. By my last count, roughly half of the Councillors on Lymington and Pennington Town Council, including the County Councillor, are members of the Yacht Club.

This dominance of RLYC members on the Town Council is what has led to the hare-brained scheme to turn the dilapidated toilets at the Quay into a weird mesh of public toilets, wine bar, and shower block for the yachties.

In my view, the toilet block needs updating and ideally moved into the corner so that the space can be utilised better than it is currently. However, it is absolutely nonsensical to put a wine bar or other such creation on top of these new toilets and then add showers, to be used exclusively by visiting yachties.

The reason for the shower block is because the Harbour Commissioners want to sell more visitor berths by advertising walk-on shower facilities only for use by visitors who have paid for a berth. In exchange, the Harbour Commissioners are contributing a small amount (roughly a couple of hundred thousand the last I looked). The toilets are a must because even the District Council aren’t stupid enough to get rid of the public toilets completely in favour of pleasing the Yachties. As for the idea to put a wine bar there, that’s to try and make the scheme financially cost-neutral from the District Council’s perspective. They plan to go out to tender for a company to come in and run the place. My first reaction when I saw the plans was “only the Tories could look at a block of public toilets and think ‘what that needs is a wine bar'”.

As for the design of the scheme, I won’t moan about the Architects. They do a good job on many different projects but this one must have been impossible to design. How on earth do you mesh a wine bar with toilets and shower facilities into a building and not make it an overbearing monstrosity?

The Conservative Councillors who support such a scheme have shown that they care more for what benefits the yachties than what benefits local people. This is our Quay, not theirs. I know that the marina and the haven brings money into the town but I’m sick and tired of local people being treated like second class citizens while more and more money is pumped into pet projects for the Harbour Commissioners or the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

I was recently invited to join the Buckland Farm Access Fund Subcommittee which is managing the Town Council’s involvement in this project (the share of the money the Town Council is putting in comes from the Buckland Farm Access Fund) and I accepted the invitation. I hope that the invitation was extended in the spirit of cross-party consensus rather than expecting me to go along with the project. If it is a choice between doing what I believe is right for local residents or what makes Conservative councillors happy, I will always choose the first option.

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