CHARGES could be introduced for the use of public loos in the Staffordshire Moorlands as part of a wide-ranging review of the facilities
The move comes after it was revealed by the district council that staffing at the main toilets in Silk Street, Leek, Cheadle and Biddulph is costing £150,000 a year.
At present, full-time staffing is arranged by Derbyshire County Council through an agency on behalf of the district council.
Now the district authority has set up a working group to look into the future viability of the toilets. One option is to charge members of the public for the use of the toilets.
Speaking at a resources overview and scrutiny panel meeting, chairman Councillor David Shaw, said: "This is a huge amount of money and changes have been considered.
As staffing is through Derbyshire County Council and an agency there would be no redundancy costs."
Three options have been proposed by the working group.
Option one is to keep facilities the same with the daily opening times from 8am to 6pm, excluding Christmas Day. This presently costs £50,000 for each town.
Option two would see the same opening times, but instead of a full -time caretaker, one would work in the morning between and one in the afternoon. This would cost £30,000 for each town, giving a total cost of £90,000, meaning a saving of £60,000.
Option three would again have the same opening times, but a cleaner would visit the sites three times daily. This would cost £17,500 for each town, giving a saving or more than £97,000.
The council is also to start a community toilet scheme. This is where the authority pays a business or organisation to provide and maintain toilets for visitors and tourists.
Mr Shaw added: "The group recommends that a feasibility study is now undertaken to look at charges being implemented for the towns' toilets.
"The working group are also recommending that option three is approved by the council."
A pilot scheme is to start in Ipstones, where Ipstones Memorial Hall management committee will look at opening up such a facility at their premises in Church Lane.
This which would benefit tourists and the large number of walkers who visit the area.
Previously toilets facilities were available in the village at The Linden Tree pub for visitors, but the inn has now been closed and turned into a private dwelling.
Mr Shaw added: "We also now recommend that a viability study into a community toilet scheme begins, with Ipstones being the pilot project."
County and district councillor for Leek, Charlotte Atkins, said this week that toilets were an essential service, but the costs had to be looked at.
She said: "It makes sense to employ local people, which would result in less travelling and less costs.
"It seems strange to have Derbyshire County Council running the toilets. I thinks people would not mind paying a small fee for using the toilets if they were in excellent condition.
"People would not be happy to pay for a sub--standard service, especially people with small children.
"We can't be serious about being a tourist destination if we do not have excellent toilets."
On hearing the news Cheadle mayor Ian Plant, said something did need to be done about the large amount of money involved.
He said: "There could be a cleaner at the toilets a few times a day which would reduce the cost to taxpayers dramatically.
"However I feel a number should be installed on the walls in case of an emergency like a blockage or burst pipe.
"I am against charges being made for the service. We need to attract people into the town. They already have to pay for car parking, so I feel this facility should remain free."