Otley’s town centre toilets will close next week to allow a £110,000 upgrade to begin.

Over the next six weeks the Orchard Gate facilities will be re-built to deliver what the Town Council claims will be “a huge benefit” to shoppers, traders and visitors.

The toilets, privately owned but taken out on a long-term lease by the previous council administration, have been plagued by vandalism for years – resulting in recurring, costly repairs.

The revamp, work on which begins on Monday, September 30, will see them re-designed and re-opened as fully staffed conveniences in a bid to improve cleanliness and security.

Town council leader Councillor John Eveleigh said: “In November we will be opening a much-improved facility that will address the longstanding complaints and problems that the current set up generates.

“This will be one of the most significant projects the town council can do to improve the visitor’s experience of the town, and it will also be a huge benefit to local residents and market stall holders.

“We are really pleased that the contract has been awarded to local company Basil Houldsworth & Sons, and we are confident they will complete the work on time and to their usual high standard of professionalism.”

Councillor Nigel Gill, who chairs the council’s asset management committee, added: “We wanted to approve the upgrade to be completed between local festivals and before Christmas.

“There is never an ideal time to undertake schemes like this but we hope that, although it will cause some inconvenience, the timings will support local traders as they build up to their busiest time of year.”

The council’s Liberal Democrats opposition, however, has criticised the “enormous cost” of the toilets re-build, with ward and town Councillor Sandy Lay branding it a “grand folly”.

The work is being funded by a ten-year loan the council has arranged.