THE cleaning of public toilets needs to improve, Winchester and East Hampshire councils have told a contractor.

Councillors spoke about unmet schedules and unclean toilets across the district, including Winchester city centre.

The cleaning, which is contracted to three companies, is under close observation by the two councils, who say they may be forced to look at alternatives if they do not see improvements over the next three months.

Rob Heathcock, assistant director of high quality environment at Winchester City Council, said the main problem is with Superclean.

He said: “The issue at the moment is the toilet cleaning contract. They are putting a recovery plan in place and we want them to make some improvements.

“There are a series of actions that the contractor should do on a regular basis, including deep cleans every now and then, but we aren’t happy with the current standard of cleaning. They are just not sticking to the schedules.”

Cllr Chris Pines said that in certain situations locations are in poor states of repair, making cleaning difficult.

“The Brooks toilets have had leaks, and been flooded, and not repaired,” he said. “They have had to keep them closed whilst repairs are being done. If it was me and I was desperate to go to the loo and I found it closed, I would be pretty annoyed. I would be jumping up and down.

“I think there is dissatisfaction. We want the highest standard for our own folk and visitors and we are not prepared to compromise.”

A recent joint scrutiny committee of both councils also heard how some bins are left unemptied for weeks at a time, with litter becoming a costly problem.

Cllr Judy Onslow, of East Hampshire District Council, said: “The amount of money it costs to pick up litter is absolutely ridiculous. We are on cut backs here. There is actually still a public perception that the litter is the council’s problem.

“It is the public that creates the litter. I do think that we need to ask the public to come with us.”

Mr Heathcock said that the emptying of bins is not an issue the council is facing at the moment.

He added: “Over the next three months is the recovery plan that we expect them to stick to and deliver, and if they don’t we will what the alternatives are. One of those alternatives is to effectively cease the contract.”

Cllr David McLean, who represents Bishop’s Waltham, urged people to report anything they see to the council for investigation.

“The real world is that there are bits of it that are being done extremely well and bits that need some work doing,” he said.

“If they are reported to the department they will be looked at immediately. That needs to be said because the council are being extremely proactive on this and we are working damn hard. There has to be a system that allows us to improve things.”

The Chronicle contacted Superclean at its head office in Lincolnshire but no-one was prepared to comment.