THE evening closure of toilet facilities and a lack of provision for clean drinking water in Christchurch has been labelled as an "absolute disgrace" by a soup kitchen trustee.

Concerns were raised to councillors that there are no suitable locations for homeless people to refill bottles.

Claire Wade, a trustee of Christchurch Soup Kitchen, also said the closure of toilets at 6pm has left rough sleepers with no access to sanitation.

Councillor David Flagg, leader of Christchurch Borough Council, said work was being done to install a fountain in the town centre.

However, he said he would not recommend changing policies regarding the toilet closure.

Ms Wade told full council the soup kitchen raised the "extremely urgent" issue on drinking water provision in June.

"Christchurch currently does not have any suitable locations where homeless people can refill bottles with clean drinking water," she said.

"It has now been over a month since this issue was raised and still no suitable source of drinking water has been provided. Temperatures during these weeks have exceeded 30 degrees Celsius in this area.

"We are aware of the local scheme to provide free drinking water at various commercial premises, but the experiences of our homeless in Christchurch who have tried at these locations is they're often turned away or charged for water."

She added: "This situation is an absolute disgrace in the 21st century. This is a supposedly affluent area and our hometown.

Ms Wade warned there was a danger of contravening the human right to water and sanitation. She asked what provision will be provided by the council to alleviate these "dire issues".

Councillor Flagg said the council had planned to install a new fountain underneath the Mayor's Parlour, but listed building status could prolong the delivery of the resource.

He added: "To avoid the lengthy delay that this may cause we have instead decided to install anew water fountain on the external wall of the Saxon Square toilet block. This does not require planning consent and is anticipated this work will be complete within the next few weeks."

Saxon Square toilets are closed around 6pm daily. Councillor Flagg said this decision was taken to combat anti-social behaviour that was occurring in the toilets during the evening.

"As a result of their closure at 6pm our staff have seen significant decline in anti-social behaviour and I'm therefore reluctant to recommend that the current decision is reversed," he said.