PUBLIC loos are open again in Hereford city centre, working on a ‘pay as you go’ system.

On Saturday the conveniences on East Street reopened – making it the first public loo in the city to reopen after, 12 months ago, Herefordshire Council announced that all the county’s public facilities would close due to budget cuts.

Hereford City Council stepped in, helping to fund loos on East Street and, by next month, those on Union Street.

The toilets use a coin-operated lock, costing 20p, which will help contribute to the cleaning costs.

However they will be free for disabled users, who can access them using a RADAR key – a scheme which allows diasabled people access to more than 9, 000 loos nationwide via a key they purchase from their local authority.

A similar lock will be fitted to the single loo on Union Street, and it is expected to reopen within the next fortnight.

Councillor Jim Kenyon said the scheme is another sign that Hereford city centre is “open for business”.

He said: “It’s part of ongoing strategy.

“We want to open up more toilets, or – if that’s not possible – get the County Council to allow the space to be used for something else.”

One idea - for the conveniences in St Martins – is to open a shop on the site, which could help fund the operating costs for other Hereford los.

Both East Street and Union Street have limited cleaning costs – they are high-tech ‘self-cleaning toilets’ – but there still remains ongoing costs that will have to be subsidised by the city council in addition to the 20p usage fee.

Incoming mayor, councillor Len Tawn, said: “Concern has been raised by citizens and local businesses about tourists and shoppers not coming to Hereford because of the toilets closing.

“We hope to work with Herefordshire Council to get some more toilets opened in the near future.

“But I am really pleased we have been able to get this toilet re-opened. “