THe ‘West End Extra’ reports;
A COMPANY owned by Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft is locked in a dispute with Westminster Council over a 10-year contract to run the borough’s public toilets.
Carlisle Cleaning won a lucrative contract to operate all Westminster’s public conveniences in August last year after the council decided to privatise the service.
The company is part of the Impellam Group, which is owned by the billionaire and former Conservative Party treasurer Michael Ashcroft. The terms of the lease are now in dispute.
An email sent to councillors this week, seen by the West End Extra, said: “The council is in dispute with Carlisle in relation to the lease contracts and the matter is being dealt with by the council’s dispute resolution solicitors and Carlisle’s solicitors.”
In January last year, it was announced the company had signed a 10-year contract with the council which would “safeguard” Westminster’s public toilets from closure. Last year the council said the contract would include a guarantee of “at least 50 per cent of the sites being free for all users with the remainder charging a maximum of 50p”.
An official council report in 2011 said that public conveniences in Westminster were used eight million times in a year and had won the “prestigious Loo of the Year award”.
The report said leasing 20 council-owned toilets would save more than £2m a year, as it was costing up to £1 each time the toilets were used.
In 2005 Carlisle Cleaning took over the running of toilets in Parliament Square and outside Westminster Abbey and Westminster Pier in a contract worth £20,000 annually.
A council spokesman said: “Our main priority is to ensure that public loos are kept open across the city and to protect the interest of council taxpayers, we expect Carlisle Support Services to abide by the terms of their lease.”
Carlisle Cleaning declined to comment