COUNCIL chiefs in the New Forest have angered beach hut owners by drawing up proposals to bulldoze public toilets.

The conveniences at Barton on Sea were shut at the start of the pandemic on the grounds they failed to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

Beach hut owners say the closures have resulted in land behind their seaside havens being used as a public toilet.

Now New Forest District Council (NFDC) could decide to demolish one of the conveniences, along with a similar facility at Calshot.

One owner, Claire Masser, said: "Barton has a lovely beach which is accessible via a path down a steep hill.

"There are toilets at the top and bottom of the hill. Since March 2020 the toilets at the bottom of the hill have been closed, with NFDC citing Covid as the reason.

"During the past year we've had to put up with people visiting the beach and using the back of my beach hut as a toilet as well as leaving nappies and tampons behind the huts - all because the council has refused to open the toilets nearest the beach."

Plans to demolish toilets at Barton and Calshot were debated at a meeting of the council's ruling cabinet earlier this month.

A report to members said: "The conveniences situated on the foreshore have been closed since March 2020 due to Covid restrictions.

"The building, a temporary structure installed just over ten years ago, is seeing serious corrosion due to the coastal environment and is at the end of its lifespan.

"The location falls within a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as being near significant coastal cliff fall.

"There are alternative facilities on the cliff top that serve residents and visitors using the beach area.

"The Barton Court Avenue public toilets are 300m from the beach toilets and are conveniently located near the Fisherman’s Walk and Hoskins Gap entrances to Barton beach."

A council spokesperson said: "Following the first lockdown we risk assessed all of our 23 public toilets.

"We have managed in a phased way to open 21 of these toilets by putting in mitigations measures such as increased cleaning frequencies, screens and signage.

"Unfortunately we have two which cannot be opened in a Covid safe way and therefore we have asked for a councillors task and finish group to look at the options available.

"The group of members is currently being formed and will be confirmed in due course."