Harrogate council defends plans for staff to use public toilets
Last updated Apr 13, 2021
Knaresborough courthouse museum
Knaresborough Courthouse Museum. Photograph: Harrogate Borough Council

Harrogate Borough Council has defended its plans to ask staff to use public toilets in Knaresborough.

Staff at the council-run Knaresborough tourist information centre are due to move from their current location in the town library to the Courthouse Museum in the grounds of Knaresborough Castle in June.

Museum workers already use nearby public toilets on Cheapside because the ancient castle doesn’t have a drainage system.

Tourist information staff now face the same situation.

A council spokesperson said:

“Knaresborough Castle and the Courthouse Museum are ancient monuments, which do not have any drainage facilities. To install them would come at a significant cost along with a number of archaeological challenges.

“Therefore, employees are expected to use public toilets, which are located close by in Castle Yard.”

David Houlgate, branch secretary at Unison Harrogate has raised concerns, saying office workers having to use outdoor toilets should “definitely remain a thing of the past”.

He added:

“Whilst public toilets are OK if people are caught short when out and about in the town, they are not suitable to be the designated toilets for staff working in an indoor environment promoting the town and wider district.

“There is also no guarantee that they will be open when needed.”

Mr Houlgate said council bosses were pushing ahead with the planned move without addressing the “reasonable and legitimate” concerns of staff.

Unison has also raised concerns about disabled access at the museum.

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The council spokesperson replied:

“The museum has level access to the rear of the building so that it can be accessed by everyone. Unfortunately, as a historic listed building with a number of internal and external steps, it is not possible to provide full access to the building.

“The welfare of our staff is paramount and we will continue to update them as plans progress and address any concerns they may have.”

The spokesperson added that moving the tourist centre into the heart of Knaresborough would provide a “better service” for visitors and residents.

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