VANDALS have forced Ringwood Town Council to close a public toilet and only keep another open during the day after they set fire to a cubicle and damaged doors.

The men’s and women’s toilets at the Carvers recreation ground pavilion have been repeatedly damaged, say ground staff, with youngsters even tearing the board down when one was boarded up after an incident.

Now councillors have decided, after discussions with police, to make the female toilet a unisex facility, and to only open it when staff are available to monitor it.

The measures come after numerous incidents at the pavilion, which hosts the town’s youth drop-in.

A report to councillors on the recreation, leisure and open spaces committee said the latest vandalism was expected to cost £750 to repair.

And the council will be getting an estimate for a steel door on the remaining facility to deter vandals who have damaged and set fire to the existing wooden door and frame.

It will also be pricing up converting the former men’s toilet into an indoor toilet or store room and bricking up the existing doorway and window.

Student adviser Charlie Rogers told members if the facilities were improved and signage provided, it was likely they would be used more and hopefully treated with more respect.

The clerk also reported that one of the lamps installed between the drop-in and tennis courts had been vandalised. Protective cages for the lights will cost £250 each.

Members were reminded that a urinal at the rear of the building was demolished four years ago because youths were using the wall to climb onto the roof of the pavilion, carrying their cycles and skate boards.

The report said: “The toilets have been subjected to vandalism to a varying degree of severity.

“On most occasions the ground staff have been able to carry out repairs in order to keep them in use. However, the facilities are generally abused and most members of the public avoid using them unless absolutely necessary.

“Over the past few months the toilets have been subjected to more vandalism.

“This has culminated in a fire being lit in the gents’ toilet and also the door and frame being completely ripped out.

“The door and frame to the ladies’ toilet has also been vandalised.

“It is quite clear that the current arrangements cannot be allowed to continue.”