Life can take an interesting turn; my wife asked me to join her in attending a Rottingdean Parish Council meeting regarding sheep grazing on Beacon Hill. Two years later I found myself voted onto the Parish Council! I wanted to put something back into the village and felt that I could do something positive as a parish councillor.
The next thing I know is that I have been asked to represent the Parish Council in their discussions with Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) to restore the seafront public toilets. This project had been stalled for a variety of reasons since the toilet block was closed without any warning two years earlier and, with the Terraces theatre opened in the summer of 2011, it was obvious that this now needed to be top priority. A series of meetings were held with BHCC officers to thrash out plans to either renovate the existing semi-derelict site or build a new toilet block under the arches by the Terraces.
There are times in my life when I am amazed at people’s generosity and I was delighted to accept an offer of help from Keith Pryke, a local property developer, who is giving his expertise free of charge to guide me in moving this project forward as quickly as possible. At the beginning of January we gained access to the toilet block and realised that the building had been extremely well built and appeared to be in very good condition despite years of neglect. BHCC arranged for a structural engineer’s inspection that proved our amateur sleuthing was correct!
Now we could finally move forward and at the beginning of February we started to draw up plans for a complete renovation and redesign of the building but I realised that a great many more factors had to be included in the final design. These included maintenance and operational costs, BHCC policy, health and safety, vandalism, family access and security! I was slowly becoming an expert on public toilet design, an unexpected consequence of being a parish councillor!
At the same time we also had to include a Seafront Office for BHCC and a café with inside seating! After several more meetings with BHCC a plan slowly evolved that now includes three family friendly cubicles that are also designed to accommodate a baby buggy, baby changing facilities and a loo seat suitable for toddlers that is included within the design of the toilet! A fourth cubicle is designed for disabled use as well.
By dint of some clever drawing we have also been able to include a separate entrance and secure storage for the folding chairs and other paraphernalia for the Terraces! We are now working on preparing the tender documents with the goal being to start work in the early part of this summer.
To find out more come along to the Annual Village Meeting at 7.30pm on 19th April at the Whiteway Centre.
Rottingdean Parish Councillor