DARREN Cowell has been going potty over Torbay's loos. Contractors Tor2 had to review the opening and closing times of toilets when their Torbay Council budget was slashed by £500,000. It also meant the number of dog poo and litter being reduced.
Cuts in loo times and dog poo bins — a recipe for a public backlash and that's what followed.
Cllr Cowell has already expressed his concerns about the way the cutbacks have been introduced.
Mayor Gordon Oliver was also not a happy chappy when he discovered loo times were being hit.
Now Cllr Cowell has heard that some loos are back to being closed later in the evening — but the council is using a private contractor.
He says that kind of flies in the face of the savings forced on Tor2.
He says: "I am trying to get some answers and a little more detail about the loos.
"Tor2 reduced opening hours as part of their cuts.
"Gordon Oliver went ballistic.
"The night time security team was asked to shut the loos later, but they do not have the capacity to do it.
"I am told we now have a private firm doing it.
"If that is the case that means there are no savings.
"There is a lot of ill feeling at the moment.
"I have asked council officers for some answers and I have asked Jeanette Richards (the councillor in charge of loos). She does not know what is happening.
"Who is supposed to be in control of this plan? Before the cuts, some toilets were open until 9pm or 10pm. They were then reduced to a 6pm closure which has led to all kinds of problems."
Cllr Cowell says: "Because of the toilets being closed at Torre Abbey Gardens and the Palm Court, people have been going into the One World cafe, the bowls club and the fish and chip shop to see if the can use the toilets because they are getting caught short."
He also revealed: "There was an instance last Saturday or Sunday where human excrement was found near the former balloon site. Tor2 had to deal with it.
"If people cannot use the toilets Tor2 are going to have to come and clean up the consequences of that which is more not less costs."
There is also a downside to the loos now closing later.
"They are still being opened at 10am. If they are now being opened later at night they are not being cleaned until later in the morning," says Cllr Cowell.
He also claimed Tor2 workers had agreed to close the loos later at one event. When they turned up they had been closed already.
He is waiting for confirmation that some of the later loo closures have been contracted out.
"If true, it is another example of the way this administration is poorly managing these cuts," he says.
"I don't blame Tor2. They came forward with their proposals at Christ mas after the cuts including poo bins etc.
"I do not think anybody realised the impact until it happened.
"There was a lack of public consultation.
"We need to be engaging with the community and businesses to fully understand the implications of these service reductions."
Evidently, a 'poo summit' is being held in September to review the dog mess bins and see what lessons can be learned from what has happened in the past few weeks.
But Cllr Cowell says: "We are having a poo bin summit in September. It is ludicrous. It is a complete farce and a sham.
"The poo summit is too little too late.
"The whole problem emerged weeks ago. We as councillors are being asked to look at poo bins in our areas. There is some duplication.
"But when they removed the bins there should have been something as simple as a sign saying 'your nearest poo bin is...'
"And the fact that Tor2 are having to go back to replace the bins is costing more money, not saving money."
He says using another private contractor at the toilets is 'outrageous'.
He says: "I am almost speechless. I cannot understand the council.
"Closing the loos, then the Mayor throwing his toys out of the pram saying no way should they be closed, you could not make it up.
"This has put Tor2 in a really embarrassing position.
"People have been effected by this."
A Torbay Council spokesman has confirmed: "Various members of council staff, including members of our security team, are currently involved in closing public toilets in the evening. Recruitment is under way to fill vacancies after two members of staff left the council's employment.
"Until these posts have been filled, agency staff have been taken on to carry out security team duties, including the closure of some toilets."
Cllr Cowell says the council should have gone back to Tor2 and asked them to fill the gaps.
Evidently, Cllr Derek Mills is leading the poo bins review and has been dubbed the 'poo guru' by Cllr Cowell.
"Perhaps he should also be the loos guru as well," says Cllr Cowell.
It is all becoming rather poodicrous and loodicrous if you ask me.