Vandals cause £2,000 worth of damage to seafront toilets

Serious vandalism at Sidmouth’s public loos at the Arches has left the town council with a £2,000 bill and concerns over the toilets’ future. 

Philippa Davies

Last week, in the run-up to the Sidmouth Airshow and Regatta weekend, the toilets on the seafront were deliberately wrecked. 

Waste pipes were kicked off, toilet seats smashed and hand driers broken. Toilet rolls and cardboard coffee cups were pushed into the pans, completely blocking the pipes. 

The toilets are the only ones in Sidmouth that are operated by the town council, which faced a race against time to get them repaired and working again before the weekend’s events. 

A council spokesman said: “You can imagine, ahead of the Airshow and the Regatta weekend, we did not want to have to close those toilets. 

“Our contractors worked industriously on Thursday and managed to fix all these problems and we got them up and working for the Regatta weekend. 

“But the bill was nearly two thousand pounds for just one spate of vandalism. It took the jetting company two hours to clear the pipes.” 

He said councillors will now be reviewing the way the toilets are managed and looking into ways of preventing vandalism – possibly by charging for their use. The town council takes pride in providing the facilities in such a prime position near the beach, but has limited funds for maintaining them. 

“We spend a lot on those toilets – and that bill is getting ever bigger. 

“Throughout this summer, there have not been many weeks that go by without something being broken in those toilets, be it a loo seat or a waste pipe, but this was the worst vandalism we’d seen for a long, long time. 

“We know the vast majority of people use the toilets correctly, we know the toilets are needed there. But they are all affected by this kind of vandalism, as soon as the waste pipes are broken or in this case completely blocked, we have to shut the whole lot while we get them cleaned. 

“It’s very disappointing that when you provide such a much-needed facility, a few people can ruin it for everyone else.”