CAMPAIGNERS are hoping for a re-think over the closure of public toilets after chancellor Philip Hammond announced the owners will no longer need to pay business rates for running them.

Tendring Council's cabinet decided to pull the chain on ten public loos across the district in a bid to save £60,000 per year.

The lost loos include Frinton and Walton's Old Way and Mill Lane toilets, leaving residents and councillors desperate to find a way to save the public conveniences.

Steven Walker set up the We Want a Wee petition to save the Frinton and Walton toilets and managed to attract 1,100 signatures.

He said he had "all but given up" on seeing Tendring Council make a u-turn over the decision.

But he hopes the Budget announcement, which will apply to toilets which are publicly or privately owned, represents fresh hope for residents.

"I would think the budget announcement about this reduction in business rates would represent an opportunity to reverse these closures," he said.

"The council should consider re-opening some, if not all, the toilets that were closed or are set to be closed.

"That £60,000 figure the council is looking to save would have included business rates."

Public toilets were liable for business rates in the same way as other non-domestic premises such as shops and offices.

Philip Hammond revealed the new policy in his Budget speech, announcing the relief would apply to any standalone facilities available for public use.

According to figures released by the British Toilet Association, 40 per cent of public toilets have been lost in the past ten years.

Frinton and Walton Town Council has stepped in following the closures, completing a deal to takeover the Old Way toilets.

The town council hopes to provide its own high street toilets in Walton, with councillor Jack Robertson looking to draft a lease with Walton Forum, the owners of the former Post Office site.

At a previous meeting, councillors agreed there would need to be a charge to use the toilet.

"We are looking at spending money here because Tendring Council shut down Walton's Mill Lane toilets," said Mr Robertson.

"Walton has an elderly population and the facilities are needed.

"The toilet would have an attendant and it would have a cost."

A Tendring Council spokesman said the toilets would not be re-opened.

“This will deliver some small savings to our spending on public toilets, which can be used to offset against investment in these facilities,” he said.

“We also welcome that the policy appears to offer relief for businesses which open toilets to the public, which we have called for since the introduction of our public toilets policy last year.”