PUBLIC toilets branded 'disgusting' by Guardian readers are now under a new maintenance contract.

Northwich Town Council has taken on responsibility for opening and closing the toilets at the outdoor market and for daily cleaning.

Members hope this will also eradicate anti-social behaviour.

The toilets are owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) which will pay Northwich Town Council for carrying out the work.

Chris Shaw, town council clerk, said: "This will be a joint partnership initiative between Northwich Town Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Northwich Business Improvement District (BID), the PCSOs and the community wardens to ensure the toilets are a better, cleaner and safer facility."

He added: "We'll be working closely with community wardens to stop a lot of the unsavoury characters that go in there."

The contract started on Monday, February 8.

Cllr Kevin Rimmer, Northwich's deputy mayor, said: "Ours are not the most pleasant by a long way but it's better having what we have got than nothing."

He said the toilets have been closing at 3.30pm and asked if the toilets could stay open until 5.30pm.

Mr Shaw said he would discuss this with CWAC.

Cllr Brian Jamieson said: "I think the work is overdue because it's been a problem for a number of years and hopefully we will be able to manage it."

Cllr Sam Naylor, also a CWAC councillor for the town centre, said: "I think this is excellent news for the town.

"There's no doubt about it, the public toilets at the market have been an absolute disaster for donkeys years and CWAC admit the fact that they've done a very poor job in terms of the maintenance of the toilets.

"I'm sure with the work our clerk has put in he will continue to ensure this initiative will be successful."

Guardian readers in January branded the toilets as 'vile', 'a health hazard' and 'disgusting'.