More than 41,000 people paid to use Keswick town centre’s only public toilets last month — a rise of around 70 per cent on August last year.
The figures, which also show that £16,786 was spent at the 40p-a-go toilets in Bell Close last month, provide an insight into how busy Keswick has been since lockdown was lifted and visitors started flooding back this summer.
They show that on average 1,300 people a day were using the toilets, which are run by Danfo UK and owned by the not-for-profit Keswick Community Asset Company (KCAC), which uses any surplus cash to fund projects for the town.
This month’s figures are so strong that KCAC is now considering reopening the public toilets at the former Keswick railway station which have been closed for more than 20 years.
The total takings for August, 2019, were £9,919, but 12 months later, Keswick was inundated with day trippers and overnight visitors as foreign travel was shunned by most people, leaving them desperately seeking a break in the UK after months of lockdown.
“The figures show an approximate increase of 70 per cent for August, 2020, compared to August, 2019,” said councillor Tony Lywood, chairman of KCAC.
“I think this probably reflects the overall increase in visitor numbers to Keswick we have all seen around town recently.”
Since taking over the toilets from Allerdale Borough Council a few years ago, KCAC has refurbished the facility near one of the town’s main car parks.
However, it receives only a small percentage of the takings, the bulk going to Danfo UK which runs, maintains and operates the toilets.
A board of local people runs KCAC and they decide how any surplus is spent.
So far, the projects it has supported include a new year countdown clock in Market Square, lunches for the elderly at Keswick Methodist Church, a reading nest for St Herbert’s School and a spraying deodoriser to neutralise the smell of dog fouling in Market Square.
Most recently it gave £6,000 for a flashing speed warning sign to be installed at Chestnut Hill, while future plans include creating a cycle station at the bottom of Market Square.
“Having modern and clean public toilets in Keswick is hugely important,” said Mr Lywood.
“I just wish they were free, but with public finances being what they are after 10 years of austerity, no authority will subsidise them.
“Left with a choice between a charge of 40p or no toilets at all, I would always choose the former — and I did.”
He added that the possible reopening of the old train station’s toilets was at a “formative stage” involving Danfo, Allerdale Borough Council and the Lake District National Park Authority or anyone else who supported the idea and could help raise the necessary funds.
“In my view, the opening of the Keswick to Threlkeld path means we should have public toilets up there,” he said.
KCAC also owns the Lakeside public toilets near Theatre by the Lake. No figures were available for these, but the increase there in people using the facility was also expected to around 70 per cent.