Petition launched to save public toilets

A PETITION has been started to help make sure public toilets are kept open once the Brownhill Countryside Centre is sold.

The building, on Wool Road in Dobcross, is set to be auctioned off on February 19 as Oldham Council is selling it.

As well as the main building, which houses Limekiln Café and a former visitor centre above that is being used as an exhibition space, the toilet block is also included in the lot.

However, owners of the Café are behind a petition to try and make sure the facilities are kept open if it does go under the hammer.

They also revealed they have put in an offer to try and buy the building before the auction at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.

Claims a septic tank would need replacing have also been made and the expense may put off any prospective future owner from keeping them open.

Mark and Jane Stewart wrote: “Are you a member of the public who regularly uses the public toilets at the Limekiln Cafe? Are you a part of the Saddleworth community who values the availability of free, public services in the village? Do you have an exercise group that meets at the Limekiln and utilises the facilities? If so, help us save our toilets!

“OMBC are selling this building, the public toilets and car park. We have put in an offer to buy it and would like to continue running the toilets and car park as they are at the moment – free and for the public – and to develop the upstairs as an exhibition and function space for the community.

“If the council don’t accept our offer, the building will be put into a public auction on February 19th.

“It is highly unlikely that any private buyer would want to continue running the public facilities considering that there are up to £50,000 costs required to replace the faulty septic tank, therefore it is likely they will be closed.”

The Independent revealed the space occupied by the former visitor centre above can be transformed as Oldham Council has decided not enough people visit it.

Sean Fielding, Oldham Council leader and cabinet member for economy and enterprise, said: “A decision has been taken to sell our interest in this site as part of our wide-ranging review of our property and assets.

“Due to our financial challenges and rising demand we are having to examine every area where savings can be found in order to protect frontline services.

“In this case, our costs for maintaining this building, including draining the septic tank daily, is massively exceeding our rental income.

“The former Brownhill Visitor Centre has been a small exhibition space upstairs in this building for a couple of years now, and it had poor footfall.

“However, I do want to reassure people that the work of our Countryside Ranger, who used to be based there, is continuing as usual across the district.

“The building has been prepared for an auction on the basis of the Lime Kiln café tenants remaining in place.

“The tenants do, of course, have an option to bid themselves, or they will need to have discussions with any new owner who will also be responsible for the future public toilet provision.”

However, Saddleworth South councillor Jamie Curley said: “I’m really disappointed about this. It is a real asset to the community and I have used it a lot myself.

“This seems to be yet again a snub for Saddleworth with a great asset being sold off for a developer to cash in on the location instead of providing a much needed family attraction.

“Uppermill is more than just a “night time economy” destination but selling off attractive family orientated assets like this is a slap in the face. Yet again Saddleworth is a cash cow rather than a community to be nurtured.

“I will certainly be pressing the case for this to remain a community asset.”

At least £225,000 will secure the property, which also comes with ‘a car park that holds 10-15 vehicles, a canopied walkway area and a detached toilet block.’

It also includes a pump house situated on the opposite side of the car park from the main building.

If you want to sign the petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/ombc-save-our-toilets-help-keep-the-public-facilities-at-the-limekiln-cafe

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