MORE than 6,500 people have signed petitions opposing plans to demolish seafront toilets on two New Forest beaches.

Proposals to bulldoze the loos at Calshot and Barton on Sea have been drawn up by the district council, which shut public conveniences at the start of the pandemic.

Critics claim people prevented from entering the toilets are using the beaches instead.

Two online petitions launched in a bid to persuade New Forest District Council (NFDC) to ditch the demolition scheme have attracted a total of 6,520 signatures.

Critics of the Calshot proposal include a member of the ruling Tory group, Cllr Alexis McEvoy, who said the toilets stayed shut last year after others reopened.

She added: "There may or may not have been discussions at NFDC about permanently closing these toilets but I didn’t see anything.

"The first I knew about it was when I spotted that £30,000 had been earmarked for the demolition of the toilets. It was lurking in the council’s medium-term financial plan.

"I could not possibly support such a short-sighted proposal."

Cllr McEvoy cited the potential impact on families with children, the elderly and disabled, and on public health in general.

She added: "I will continue to be vocal in my opposition to this disgraceful proposal and strongly urge NFDC to do what the government advised them to do last June - refer to advice on measures that can be taken to open toilets in a safe way and to re-open Calshot beach toilets as soon as possible."

The Calshot petition says the toilets have been closed since March last year.

It adds: "That decision resulted in the public health issues of a small minority of beach users urinating around and on beach huts.

"Concern about public health was the reason quoted in government guidance to councils about the reopening of public toilets - not heeded in this case.

"NFDC states there is another public convenience 660 metres away and claims there is easy access via walking or parking.

"While that may just about be true on a dull, cool day in February it certainly is not so on a busy, sunny day in summer.

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.

"Two cannot be opened in a Covid-safe way and we have asked for a task and finish group to look at the options available."