Makeover for smelly Hawera loos

An overdue upgrade of a Hawera public toilet has been given the go-head by the South Taranaki District Council.

The facilities, located on the corner of Albion and High streets, near the town's water tower, are set to get a makeover worth up to $200,000 after six councillors voted in favour of the move.

At this week's policy meeting, Mayor Ross Dunlop said he had received a number of complaints, including poems, about the dire state of the town's loos.

"I'd be seriously concerned about delaying this project further and further," he said.

He said the toilets were in "desperate need" of an interior upgrade but he wanted to see the exterior of the building maintained as much as possible.

Dunlop's view differed to that of council staff who recommended the upgrade be suspended until the Hawera Town Centre Strategy had been completed.

The town strategy will look at ways to revamp the main street and surrounding areas with design input sought by an urban planner. However, there was no clear timeframe for when this work would be finished.

Councillor Kirsty Bourke supported Dunlop's stance and said feedback council had received from a survey about the state of the town's public facilities had been damning.

Disgusting, dirty and smelly were common themes of the survey results, and only 67 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the toilets in the town.

Bourke said she wanted to see the toilets upgraded and maintained to a high standard.

"If it's going to be done, it needs to be done properly," she said.

Councillor Garth Weir said he was impressed by Stratford's new Broadway public toilets and Hawera residents should not have to wait any longer to get theirs fixed.

"We should do something about those toilets now," he said.

However, councillor Ian Wards was one of three who voted against the motion. He said he did not see the harm in waiting a bit longer until the town strategy had been completed before looking to address the town's toilet issues.

"I think the town centre strategy is an important part of what we are planning to do," he said.

Councillors Gordon Lawson and Mike Powell also supported the postponement of the work. Powell queried the cost of the revamp and said although he appreciated people wanted to maintain the heritage of the building, any work needed to be done as efficiently as possible.

"I would just watch the costs," he said.

A budget of $400,000 was put aside to fund toilet upgrades this year, but this money will now be rolled over into the 2014-15 financial year.

The decision to formally adopt the change will be made at the next council meeting on July 14.

Taranaki Daily News