REFURBISHED public toilets will re-open in Henley today (Friday) — four weeks later than planned and probably over budget.
Henley Town Council set aside £100,000 for the makeover of the toilets at Leichlingen Pavilion in Mill Meadows but the final bill is expected to be higher.
The work, which has been carried out by Wells Builders, of Wargrave, started in March and was expected to take eight weeks to complete.
Portable toilets were made available while the work was taking place.
Town clerk Mike Kennedy said: “The delay is down to a number of factors and I need to talk to the architect who alerted me to a potential overspend last week.
“At the moment we have paid up to the contract sum, minus five per cent retention, so we are not yet in the position of being over budget.”
He said that there were penalties built into the contract if the company failed to deliver the project on time.
Mr Kennedy admitted there had been a number of changes to the original plans which could lead to an overspend. He said: “For example, we replaced a ladies’ loo with a family changing room so mums and dads can go in there, lock the door and be in private while changing their babies.
“One of the things we wanted to deliver was an electronic changing table, which was originally a flat table. If we provided this piece of equipment it would take us over budget so we have reverted back to a flat table but we have a power point there for the future.”
Mr Kennedy said the standard of workmanship was “excellent”, adding: “I think the community will be extremely pleased with the project and to have the toilets open this weekend is good news.”
Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak told a council meeting on Tuesday that the toilets were “bright and light”, adding: “They are really very, very good.”
But town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “I find it disappointing that a) they have are late on completion and b) they have gone over budget. This should never have happened.”
Councillor Jeni Wood replied: “All the figures have not come to fruition yet and I think that’s the time to talk to the town clerk to see whether we are over budget.”
Councillor Sam Evans said she had heard the delay was caused by the contractors “trying to do a bit of job sharing”.
She also pointed out that the council’s deckchairs in Mill Meadows were effectively losing money, as the Henley Standard reported last week.
Eamonn O’Donnell, foreman at the site, said: “I know we were delayed starting because of the flooding. The water level was up to the second step. We were due here in February but we started in the March.”
The old toilets were more than 20 years old and prone to bad smells due to drainage problems. In 2010, the council carried out a series of deep cleans costing £1,100 each but this failed to tackle the problem. It was previously quoted £230,000 for the refurbishment work.