A scheme to ask shops, pubs and cafes in Market Harborough and Lutterworth to open their toilets to visitors has been backed by the council

Cllr Neil Bannister
Cllr Neil Bannister

A plan to ask local pubs, cafes and shops to let visitors use their toilets has been backed unanimously by Harborough district councillors.

The idea came from Liberal Democrat councillors, who got the idea from a similar scheme in Kendal, Cumbria.

Cllr Phil Knowles

Cllr Phil Knowles

The council will now explore how the tourist and visitor friendly idea could work in Market Harborough and Lutterworth.

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Phil Knowles said he was “extremely pleased that we have been the catalyst for moving forward this scheme to the discussion stage - and hopefully onwards to the benefit of the people of Harborough”.

There is no suggestion that Harborough’s existing public toilets would be closed.

The “use our loos” scheme, if successfully launched, would be an addition to public toilets.

At Monday night’s full council meeting, Cllr Knowles said the scheme, if backed by the council, could be good for businesses and good for visitors.

“This scheme, complete with tourist leaflet, window stickers, etc identifying participating shops and businesses could be something that Harborough District council could promote” he suggested.

In response, Conservative council leader Neil Bannister said he thought the scheme was “an idea that is worth exploring”.

But he stressed: “There are certainly no plans at all to close any public toilets here (in Market Harborough) or in Lutterworth.”

And he suggested an amendment that confirmed public toilets in the two towns would remain open, even if the scheme was adopted.

Councillors on both sides then agreed unanimously to look further into the “use our loos” plan.

In Kendal, the scheme was launched after public toilets in the town were closed down. Some 14 town businesses now have stickers on their doors saying their toilets are open to visitors.

Shops and cafes in Market Harborough seemed positive about the scheme. Sophie Collick of Millers Cafe in Millers Yard off Church Square said: “I would consider it, if I’m part of a town-wide scheme.”

And at Blend Coffee and Cakes on Manor Walk, a spokesperson said: “We do that all the time anyway, so we’d have no problem with the scheme.”