PLANS to close the public toilets in Blackwood have been met with fierce opposition.

Last week, the Argus reported that five council-run toilets located in towns across the Caerphilly county borough will close next month due to ongoing financial pressures.

The council has agreed to close the facilities as part £15.6million savings requirement for 2019/20.

One of the toilets to be included in the closure is located at the bus station in Blackwood. A petition has been launched to spare the facility from being cut.

Blackwood County Councillor Kevin Etheridge started the petition. He added that the annual cost of the facility is “only £20,500 per annum”.

“We believe under the Equality Act a public body should make reasonable adjustments for disabled, vulnerable and the public with medical conditions,” he said.

“We call on the Council to abandon its closure proposals in this respect and defer the decision from 31/3/19 until the motion is debated and discussion.”

Despite the strong public support for his petition, Cllr Etheridge said that he requires the support of 37 councillors in order for his motion to pass.

Two members of the public who have strongly criticised the decision to close the toilets are Janice Hillier, 71, and Olive Russell, 73, who are both from Pontllanfraith.

The two women regularly travel by bus into Blackwood and claim that having public toilets available to the elderly and disabled members of the community is a necessity.

“It’s the only toilet in Blackwood unless you walk all the way to Asda,” said Mrs Hillier.

“My friend (Mrs Russell) is disabled and can’t walk all that way.”

Mrs Hillier went on to say that she understood the need for the council to save money but that she didn’t understand the reasoning behind their decision to close the toilets.

“They used to charge people to use the toilets, but they don’t anymore,” she said.

“I’m willing to pay if I have to.”

Blackwood resident Janet Lane added: “The first thing people do when they get off the bus is use the toilet and if they close all the toilets, then people won’t want to visit.”

Cllr Barbara Jones said: “Unfortunately we are now faced with making difficult and unpopular decisions due the huge pressures being placed on our budgets.”

The council is also currently consulting on a draft Local Toilet Strategy which looks at the wider provision of toilet facilities across the area.