COUNCIL bosses could be set to make a U-turn on plans to charge people to use Clacton’s town centre loos.

Tendring Council’s cabinet last year approved a new public conveniences strategy, which included a recommendation to make customers pay for using the toilets in Rosemary Road.

But the cabinet is now set to approve updated plans to proceed with refurbishment of the block, but not to introduce charges.

A report said that in light of the proposed closure of the town’s Marks and Spencer, the cabinet should reconsider the earlier decision.

It said the decision not introduce charges will reduce potential future income to the council by £20,000 a year, although the additional cost of adapting the site for a charging facility was estimated at £30,000.

The report said: “The toilets are the busiest year round facilities in Tendring.

“These toilets are subject to frequent misuse and were identified in the public convenience strategy as in need of refurbishment.

“The council agreed the refurbishment of this public convenience and allocated £70,000 for the purpose.”

But it added: “A number of high profile closures of prime retailers in Clacton town centre are planned in the near future.

“The refurbishment of Rosemary Road toilets in will benefit the town centre, promoting town centre rejuvenation as well as supporting the existing and future visitor economy.”

It added there are “risks” associated with the introduction of charges at a time when High Street retail outlets are “struggling and competing for business both online and from out of town shopping facilities”.

Despite the recommendation, it added: “It is important to note that the principle of charging for public toilets remains a worthwhile proposal and a sensible means of ensuring funding will be available in future for necessary improvements.”

Cabinet members are also being recommended to approve a £130,000 refurbishment of the public toilets in Promenade Way, Brightlingsea.

The amenity was listed for upgrade, but was not in the first round of funding.

But additional funding from section 106 money – cash paid by developers for improvements in the area in which they build – has been identified for the scheme.

The report will go before the council’s cabinet on Friday.