A RESIDENTS’ association chairman has hit back at a councillor in a spat over its stance on future plans for a toilet block that was magnet for drug taking and antisocial behaviour.

St Bartholomew’s councillor Colin Winfield claimed residents were left “alarmed” after learning at a meeting that Holland Residents’ Association backed proposals for a dance studio to lease the redundant Ipswich Road toilet block from Tendring Council, if it gets funding for an extension.

But the association hit back claiming it does not support the plans – and that Mr Winfield was not at the meeting, despite being invited.

In a letter, Mr Winfield said: “The long-suffering residents in the vicinity have had to tolerate the worst forms of anti-social behaviour in and around the toilet block and secluded open space. Drink and drug users’ debris, used needles and even mattresses are left.

“Residents’ questions are mounting as to what are the uses that the extension will encourage, the times of opening, noise nuisance and many more.

“The loud and clear message from residents and local businesses is for the neighbouring car park to be enlarged, returned to free all day parking, the recycling bins re-located inside the new car park and an in/out entrance that would encourage Tesco shoppers to park there.”

But residents’ association chairman Verity Coulthard said she was bemused by Mr Winfield’s comments.

She said: “I am shocked because his statement about the committee supporting the use of the redundant public convenience as a dance school, and any possible building extension, is wholly inaccurate.

“The presentation given at the meeting outlined the proposal to make the open space next to Ipswich Road Car Park into a more attractive public garden and was based on the former toilet block being demolished.

“It was clearly stated that, whilst the committee felt that a dance school would be a welcome facility in Holland-on-Sea, it would not be appropriate in the existing building, and an extension would not be welcomed.

“Despite being invited to this quarterly public meeting, none of the three district councillors attended, therefore it puzzles me how Mr Winfield obtained this misinformation.”

Mrs Coulthard said the association committee had called for the toilet block to be demolished to make way for a public garden in 2016.

She added: “The recent report about possible use of the building is clearly a set-back and something that we need to discuss with the local authority.”