Corby Boating Lake toilets stay shut to public in council row

The café reopened last week to customers

By Alison Bagley
Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 1:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 10:02 am

The owners of a landmark Corby café have slammed North Northants Council after being offered a 'derogatory' sum of money to open their private toilets to the public.

Kyle Mills and dad Matt Woods have taken on a 20-year lease at the Boating Lake Café, a complex that includes indoor and outdoor eating areas, the kitchen and play area, as well as toilet facilities.

But despite the business having to pay costs for the toilets' upkeep and cleaning, the new owners have been verbally abused and even spat at when refusing customers access to the loos.

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Manager and owner Kyle Mills

After complaints from park users, North Northants Council officers contacted Matt and Kyle, offering them a five per cent discount on their rent if they made the toilets available to the public.

Matt said: "The toilets belong to the café and not for park users, however we would love then to be. But this comes with great expense into the tens of thousands of pounds.

"The council is also pestering us to make them open to all members of the public. What we would absolutely love to do is provide this facility as no-one should have to do their business in the woods.

"We asked the council if they are going to provide financial support towards this. The council think offering us £1,000 a year towards the expense of this is acceptable - that's £20 a week - and to be honest that's an absolutely insulting amount when you consider the thousands of people that use the park weekly.

The toilets are for customers

"How as a small business can you afford the water, cleaning, hand soap and toilet roll for thousands of people who just need to use the bathroom."

Even before the café reopened its doors last week, people were asking Matt to use the toilets while he was busy refurbishing the area.

He said: "A lady spat on me through the railings. We weren't even open and she asked to use the toilets. I said 'I'm sorry but we're not open' and I could feel it on the side of my face."

The father and son were given an estimate as to the water bill they could expect if they opened up the toilets to the public.

The newly refurbished café employs six full-time and two part-time staff

Manager Kyle said: "Anglian Water said that for a property like this that the water bill could be £10,000. The council want us to make the toilets available but we want them to pay towards them - with the millions of pounds in their budget they could.

"My dad and myself have taken over and reopened the Boating Lake Café and are thrilled at the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately though we're getting a lot of unwanted abuse regarding our toilets. People ask to use the toilets constantly. They are for our customers.

"The council owns a building over the other side of the car park that has toilets. We are a private business."

In am email to the pair an NNC officer said: "After speaking with the manager who is responsible for the boating lake operations, I can confirm the council is willing to offer a five per cent reduction in rent in order to supplement the opening of the toilets to the public.

The outside seating area has great views across the lake

"As per our phone conversation I understand you feel this to be an inadequate amount. I have therefore passed your feedback on to the park manager and asked them to contact you on the details you have supplied."

Matt has now asked for a meeting to resolve the issue citing the £1,000 offered will not cover the expense of water, toilet rolls, hand soap and a cleaner.

He said: "We want a meeting but they won't even phone up. We are waiting for a reply. The previous owner used to get all the money from the fishing. If the council want us to open to the public it's down to them. The café is an asset to the town - it's a beautiful view.

"I feel the council has come up short, not only to myself a small local business but to all users of the park."

Logan Bates, 15, fishing with his family, said: "The council should help - maybe they should be 20p like in town."

Mum-of-three Leanne Kettridge said: "Some people can't help needing the toilet, they have weak bladder. It should be down to the council and they should share the costs to make it fair. You want people to come down to the park."

The Boating Lake Café

A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “We are in discussion with the tenant of the café at Corby Boating Lake about a way forward.

“Historically the tenants of the café had also allowed public access to the toilets to non-customers in an informal arrangement.”