Toilets row as Knaresborough tourism staff set to lose workplace loos under planned move

Council bosses have been accused of ignoring the concerns of staff who will have no choice but to use public toilets under a planned move of Knaresborough's tourist information centre.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 10:34 am
Visitor centre staff will move to the Courthouse Museum at Knaresborough Castle (pictured) in June.

Staff at the Harrogate council-run centre will lose access to their own loos when it moves from its current location at the town's library to the Courthouse Museum at Knaresborough Castle in June.

They will join museum workers who are already forced to use nearby public toilets whilst at work because the ancient castle is so old it does not have a drainage system.

The move has prompted concerns from staff as well as union officials with David Houlgate, branch secretary at Unison Harrogate, saying office workers having to use outdoor toilets should "definitely remain a thing of the past.”

He said: "Whilst public toilets are okay 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 despite hearing calls for staff to be provided with their own facilities at an alternative site, council bosses were still pushing ahead with the planned move without addressing the "reasonable and legitimate" concerns.

He also said Unison had raised questions over disabled access at the museum.

In response, 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.

“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."

They added: “The plan to move the tourist information centre in Knaresborough to the Courthouse Museum will allow us to provide a better service for residents and visitors alike.

“It will also be right in the centre of Knaresborough’s number one tourist attraction, as well as being able to provide information about other fantastic places of interest across the Harrogate district."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter