TOILETS in Poole are set to be reopened after almost half a million pounds was set aside by to fund improvements.

The move to close facilities across the town in recent years was made to save hundreds of thousands of pounds.

But it has been widely criticised and the new alliance controlling BCP Council is to reverse decisions made by Poole council prior to its abolition.

Two sites – Poole Quay and Lake Pier – have already been identified as sites for new facilities while six existing blocks will be “urgently” refurbished.

A £493,000 budget for the project has been set aside with money originally earmarked for costs associated with the council merger used.

The move is part of the approach by the coalition to bring services and charges across the three towns up to par and follows the announcement earlier this week that council tax in Christchurch would be reduced.

Council leader, Liberal Democrat Cllr Vikki Slade, said Poole was in a worse situation in terms of the availability of toilets compared to other towns.

She said: “At our very first cabinet meeting, we will be able to get on with the process of achieving consistent services across the three towns – starting with public toilets.

“Residents and visitors to Poole are seriously short-changed by a lack of toilets compared to Bournemouth, Christchurch and other local towns.

“We have already identified two sites that we intend to reopen on Poole Quay and at Lake Pier and six other sites will undergo urgent refurbishment with a capital investment of £493,000.”

The project has been made public in a report outlining the financial situation left behind by the three preceding councils and will be considered by councillors on Wednesday (June 12).

The £493,000 earmarked for the toilet reopening and refurbishment work has come from money originally allocated as part of the contribution of Poole council towards the costs of the merger.

Council corporate director Julian Osgathorpe said the ability of Poole council to achieve a balanced budget last year, including its contributions to local government reorganisation meant the planned move to take the money from capital spending was no longer needed.

"BCP Council is in a slightly healthier position than previously assumed as a result of the cautious approach adopted in incurring expenditure in the final quarter," he says.

"This has meant that the 2018/19 programme management costs incurred

could be funded in-year rather than drawing on earmarked reserves."

Cabinet member for finance, Liberal Democrat Cllr David Brown, said: “Financial outturn for all of the three areas was good and in Poole its position allows us to use this money on improving this important service.

“While we felt it was right to bring council tax across the area together more quickly, we also have to recognise the difference in services available in each town and in Poole the most obvious example is the loss of toilets.”

Mike Randall, the chairman of Parkstone Bay Association, had been a vocal critic of the original decision to close the facilities and welcomed the new investment.

"What this shows is that Poole is a forward-looking place," he said. "To attract visitors in you need to have facilities and public toilets are the most basic of them.

"It's a shame that they were allowed to be run down to such a state that it needs this much money to bring them up to standard but I'm very pleased to see it coming through."

The locations of the six blocks of toilets which are to be refurbished have not been made public.