Taxpayers pan crazy cost of loo bill

The Common's car park toilets that cost �53,000 a year to clean. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001367-63)
The Common's car park toilets that cost �53,000 a year to clean. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001367-63)

AN ASTONISHING £53,000 of taxpayers’ money is being spent each year to pay a private contractor to clean one set of public toilets.

Harborough District Council is paying the money to its waste contractor Focsa to clean the loos on the Commons car park, in Harborough town centre.

The figure – which equates to £1,025-a-week – is more than twice the amount given in three estimates for the same job the Mail was able to obtain from cleaning firms in the area.

And it is more than three times the £15,000 the council said it would save when it closed the Market Hall toilets last year.

District Cllr Barbara Johnson, who discovered the £53,340 cleaning bill for the Commons car park toilets, said: “It’s disgusting, given the present painful process of cuts that residents have had to endure, that this crazy cost has continued to escape the notice of those responsible for finding savings.

“The public deserve better than this. Just £20,000 of this could be a lifeline for some of our threatened community services.”

The council says the figure “includes costings for an attendant to oversee cleanliness, materials and all chemicals, supplies and equipment for cleaning.”

But in just 20 minutes the Mail was able to obtain estimates for the same job from three separate cleaning firms, all of which came in at under £25,000, based on a full-time cleaner working seven days-a-week.

A director of one of the firms, who asked to remain anonymous, described the £53,000 figure as ‘horrendous’ while another said it would be a ‘dream contract’.

Charlotte Linacre, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a pressure group which campaigns for lower taxes, said: “This example will anger taxpayers who’ve been paying high council tax and are let down by the councils poor approach to providing services. Anyone spending their own money or working in a business simply wouldn’t ignore considerably cheaper options. This shows the endemic lack of regard for taxpayers’ money from councils who’ve been flushing money down the drain for years.”

The council said it could not give a breakdown of the cost or say how often the toilets are cleaned.

Cllr Johnson has now submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act in an effort to obtain the information.

A council spokesman told the Mail: “The cleansing cost of £53,000 for the Commons Car Park toilets/baby changing facilities is straight from the contract as the tendered figure. This is the amount that the contractor put in the tender to provide the specified service. The toilets are open seven days a week.”