Pett PC Letter to RDC regarding the Closure of Pett Level Public Toilets

Ms Anna Evett
Rother District Council                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             25 January 2024

Dear Anna

Closure of Pett Level Public Conveniences

Thank you for your message of 21 December.

I note that you have mentioned the toilets at Winchelsea Beach and Fairlight Country Park, but neither of these is accessible from Pett Level without some form of transport and therefore do not offer a practical solution to visitors to Pett Level. Each is about three miles away.

I also note that you have not mentioned the public health considerations that I referred to in my letter to Lorna Ford. These should certainly be a factor that is taken into account when considering the closure of toilets where there is no practical alternative. Nor have you mentioned the potential reduction in the attractiveness of Pett Level as a destination for school parties and other visitors, something which the district council is promoting.

I now come to your proposal that the cost of opening the toilets is shared between Rother and Pett PC. We are willing to consider this proposal, but, before we do so, we need further assurances and clarifications before we can properly do so.

First, we feel, particularly in the light of the photographs sent to you by Councillor Mier, that the toilets should be open all year round, so, while we may be able to accept the proposed arrangement for the first six months, we would expect it to be continued throughout the winter months and full time thereafter.

We are investigating the cost of an alternative waste disposal company and will aim to find an alternative cleaner. In the longer term we would expect to install automatic time-controlled door locking, but initially this is unlikely to be possible, so we would need to work out a way to handle this. Similarly, we would hope to install a card-operated ‘honesty’ payment device, but, again, this is not going to be possible initially.

The costs we would expect to share are:

  • The emptying of the septic tank, but on the basis of the quotes that we obtain;
  • The cleaning of the toilets and the opening and closing, again on the basis of quotes that we obtain;
  • The electricity, which you have not mentioned; can we expect Rother to continue to pay this (and share the cost)?

Incidentally, we understand that the septic tank has continued to be ‘emptied’ even though the toilets are closed. It is clear, from an inspection carried out by our clerk, together with the contractor who empties the cesspit at the recreation ground for us, that surface water is getting into the septic tank. See the attached report of that visit and the video accompanying this letter.

The attached report also gives some indication of the condition of the toilets. Previously the sum of £15,000 has been mentioned to bring the toilets into full operational effectiveness. However, in view of the report in the annex, this may be insufficient. Can we assume that whatever sum is necessary will be made available? We would not feel able to even share the running costs until the toilets are fully operational. Repair work could include, for example, new sewage treatment plant to comply with latest legislation. automatic door closure, a donation collection facility, new seats, new lick of paint etc.

The inspection indicates that the tank has a volume of about 4000 gallons/18,000 litres. However, it is not clear how much waste is removed at each visit by the present contractor, but it seems unlikely that, if the system is working correctly, that 2000 gallons of waste is generated every week, even at high season. Emptying on an as-needed basis could save a considerable sum..

Finally, if it is agreed in principle that the sharing plan will go ahead, it will be essential for us to see a proposal as to how this would operate before finally agreeing.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely


Dr David Penfold (Chair)
Pett Parish Council


Annex: Pett Level Toilets – Moody Sewage Visit 13th January 2024


The length and diameter were measured as 3.8 metres long, diameter 2.5 metres. The tank therefore has a capacity of about 4000 gallons/18,000 litres.

When we looked inside the water is clear to the point that you can see the sludge removal pipe that has fallen inside and been left there as it does no harm.

You can see from the video clip attached to the email, that, although the toilets are closed there is a very steady drip from the input pipe. I have seen drips like this before and this equates to between 2,000 to 3,000 litres a week

There is second leak from the roof of the tank which is slower, so about 2,000 litres a week.

We looked at the junction with the tank pipe and the water is moving slowly but probably not enough to produce the drip from the input pipe.

If either of these is from the surrounding ground being sodden, this should not happen during the summer months.

The junction is ancient and in a very poor state and should be replaced with a plastic preformed junction. This replacement would mean that there would be no water ingress from the water table at this junction. It was thought that an inside cistern is likely letting water by.

24.01.13 old toilet junction needs redoing one direction

     24.01.13 old toilet junction needs redoing one direction

24.01.13 Old toilet junction other direction showing crack

24.01.13 Old toilet junction other direction showing crack


The price to have the tank inspected to ascertain how many holes there might be is for 2 hours for two men to enter and clean the tank – £490 plus vat. Obviously the tank will need to be emptied as part of this – £160 plus vat for 900 gallons and £11 for each increment of 100 litres.


Looking at the fortnightly collection paid by RDC I would say that the most recent price of £405 relates to 3000 gallons under contract (rather than a one off/emergency). Moody Sewage under contract price for 3000 is £391.

Not much of a saving could be made on the contract price but it might be possible to ascertain if savings could be made by the pit being checked to see if it needs emptying. This is done at the recreation ground and it has halved the costs.

Obviously savings could be made if the tank is fixed and there is no ground water seeping into the tank and there is no real letting by of the toilet cisterns.

The other costs to the facility are: Blockages

Electricity Water supply Cleaning Legionella test

The cleaning costs is another area where costs could be reduced if someone local cleaned them and someone else assisted with locking/opening the facility until the automatic doors can be installed.