Should festival organisers spend £50 so the public can spend a penny?
This was the question faced by Morecambe councillors during heated talks about reopening public toilets on the prom.
Labour councillors were split on the issue – with some calling for festival promoters to pay towards running costs of the seafront loos near The Dome site and others disagreeing.
Morecambe Town Council will reopen the loos on peak days in 2017.
They have been closed since Lancaster City Council budget cuts in 2009.
Coun Terrie Metcalfe, chairman of the town council festivals committee, said event organisers could not be expected to pay towards the toilets if they were already open on the day of a festival.
But others said it was fair to charge promoters who would save money on hiring portable loos.
Coun Metcalfe said: “The one thing we’ve got to remember is the word ‘public’...we can’t ask festival organisers to pay for public toilets.”
But her colleague Brendan Hughes said: “For £50? I think we can.
“If 10,000 people are on the promenade because of an event, they are the public at that event.”
Another Labour councillor, Claire Cozler, said: “How do you police this?
“If I’m walking down the promenade and I’m not at the festival, and I need the loo, are you going to have a Spanish Inquisition at the door?”
In the end, councillors agreed to ask for a minimum donation of £50 from festival organisers towards the cost of opening the toilets.
This would only apply to events funded by Morecambe Town Council on days when the loos were not already scheduled to open. The Dome loos are due to open on 60 days of the year (weekends, bank holidays and some school holiday weekdays) between April 29 and September 3.
Brian Bromiley, promoter of the Morecambe Bonfire Spectacular set for autumn 2017, said: “I would have no problem with making a donation of £50 for opening the toilets. I would have had to hire in six toilets and disabled toilets which would have been much more than that.”
Morecambe Town Council announced in 2016 that the toilets would be reopened due to public demand at a cost of £44,000 for a year. This came after a residents survey revealed public loos was their number one priority for improving the town.