Caught short

PUBLISHED: 01:01 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:46 10 June 2010

BUDLEIGH Salterton's new state-of-the-art automatic-locking toilets proved less than bog standard when a person had to be jemmied out by crowbar after the lock failed. The district council blamed vandals for the failing lock trapping the unidentified pers

BUDLEIGH Salterton's new state-of-the-art automatic-locking toilets proved less than bog standard when a person had to be jemmied out by crowbar after the lock failed.The district council blamed vandals for the failing lock trapping the unidentified person in the two-month old Public Hall unisex toilets - which had previously been dubbed 'user-friendly' by the council. A council spokesman said the problem was not caused by a fault in the automatic locking system, but by vandalism or a faulty mechanism.He said: "Since this new toilet block was opened in November, there have been occasional acts of vandalism. One of the door lock mechanisms failed on this occasion and we cannot be sure whether this was due to damage caused by vandals or by a faulty part."The locking mechanism on the cubicle in question has now been replaced and all the other doors have been checked to ensure that they are fully functional."We wish to apologise to the person who was locked in."As soon as we were notified that someone was locked in, one of our employees went to the building to assist. Because the locking rod was jammed in the closed position, it was necessary to use a crowbar to prise the door open."When the new loos were opened last November the council said how automatic locking doors avoided the need for a member of staff to open the block in the morning and close it at night.An occupant who was inside a cubicle when it closed for the night would still be able to leave it, the council assured.Budleigh Salterton Mayor Councillor John Shiel said he was unaware the new loos had been targeted by vandals. And said the police should be notified if that was the case."The council took long enough building them and they still haven't got it right," he said. "It must have been a moving experience for whoever was trapped in there!"Deputy Mayor Councillor Chris Kitson said: "I don't know how they called for help. Maybe they pushed a note written on toilet paper under the door!"Do you know the trapped person? Contact the Journal on (01395) 276153.

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