September 6th, 2016

Former mayor told to end campaign to bring toilets back to Stratford Library

Former mayor told to end campaign to bring toilets back to Stratford Library Former mayor told to end campaign to bring toilets back to Stratford Library
Updated: 8:18 am, Jun 04, 2015

FORMER mayor Cyril Bennis has been told to put a lid on his campaign to bring back the toilets at Stratford Library.

Six years ago Warwickshire County Council opted to close the toilets without warning during refurbishment work.

Council chiefs claimed the move was backed by many as the number of people using the toilets had resulted in an unpleasant smell. They said improvements to the facilities would not be cost-effective and staff could quickly redirect people to the nearest public toilet in Windsor Street.

But in 2009 Mr Bennis staged a punishing eight-and-a-half hours sit-in on a vintage toilet where he collected 500 signatures on a petition opposing the decision.

Just 18 months later, he hauled the same loo from the Henley Street library to the county council offices at the Shire Hall in another bid to force a rethink.

And last month he waded into the debated again – arguing youngsters were missing out because parents were reluctant to take them to the library due to the lack of loos.

He said it was ludicrous to expect the elderly or those with young children – both encouraged to use the library through events such as computer workshops and storytelling – to trek down the road to use the loo.

But it seems Mr Bennis’ campaigning has finally driven the council potty after he received a letter telling him to stop contacting them.

The letter, written by the council’s customer service manager, Ayub Khan, said Mr Bennis’ campaign was becoming “unreasonable, inappropriate and disproportionate.”

It read: “You have already been provided with an explanation on more than one occasion as to why this decision has been made and your persistent contact with the county council will not change that.

“While the council recognises you are dissatisfied, it is an unreasonable and disproportionate use of public resources to continue to correspond with you on this matter.”

The letter added the council would be forced to take action if Mr Bennis continued – including placing restrictions on his contact with council staff.

Speaking this week, Mr Bennis told The Observer he was stunned to receive the letter.

He said: “It’s an absolute disgrace and I’m in a state of shock as to why they have decided to throw this legal challenge at me.

“My crime is I have asked questions of Warwickshire County Council and now I’m being threatened in a bid to censor me.

“Campaigning not only gives people the opportunity to get a message out there but it also allows them to get behind a cause and there’s something fundamentally wrong when people can’t do that.

“I have campaigned on many issues and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable but it seems this is the big society we live in nowadays.”

Mr Bennis confirmed he would be seeking advice before deciding whether to take further action.

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