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Staff cleaning public toilets in Derbyshire Dales subjected to verbal abuse

Verbal abuse has been hurled at council staff cleaning public toilets in the Derbyshire Dales.

All 10 of Derbyshire Dales District Council’s public toilets reopened on Monday, June 22 after being closed for three months.

This was on a two-week trial, with hours reduced to 11am-3pm with three cleans a day in order to reduce the risk of Covid-19 being spread between users.

The council has now said opening hours will be increased to 10.30am-5.30pm after a “successful” trial, despite staff being abused.

Facilities will now be cleaned four times each day during which the loos would be temporarily closed.

A District Council spokesperson said: “In the main, the reopening has been successful, though, sadly, our staff have at times been subjected to verbal abuse from members of the public.

“However, following the reopening of retail, bars and restaurants as coronavirus lockdown eases, we believe it makes sense to extend opening hours, though users should note that three of the four cleans will happen during opening hours.”

The Dales has been a hotspot for a severe increase in visitors during lockdown conditions, with some crowding beauty spots, flouting social distancing rules, dropping huge amounts of litter and causing havoc for residents.

Last month councillors debated the pros and cons of finally reopening the facilities after growing public outcry.

They feared the loos would become the sources of Covid-19 outbreaks and feared the impact on local communities.

Officers said reopening facilities would help support the reopening of other businesses, including Bakewell Market, and would improve public use and the retention of health and safety in open spaces.

At a meeting on June 11 officers said they had received six formal reports of people “using the street as a toilet” since May 23.

Ashley Watts, the authority’s director of community and environmental services, said the potential shortfall of hand sanitiser is a “suck it and see situation” with the very real possibility that the authority could run out due to it remaining a high-demand product.

He said there was no “golden ticket” to avoid all risk by reopening public toilets but the council has an obligation to “find something that is workable”.

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