Contractor locks bus driver in public loo

A BUS driver was trapped in a public toilet in Rye for two hours after being locked in by bungling Rother contractors.

Passengers on the 100 Folkestone service were left stranded until the alarm was raised and a replacement bus brought in.

The incident happened just before Christmas when driver Carol Warne stopped to use the toilet at Crownfields, by the rail station at 6pm.

But when the 49-year-old tried to come out of the building, she found a metal grille had been put in place over the main doorway.

Luckily she was able to get help on her mobile phone but was left waiting for two hours while council staff tried to contact a key holder who had to travel 30 miles from Polegate, near Eastbourne.

Mrs Warne, from Folkestone, said: “I was a bit bewildered, I haven’t heard of any other drivers who have been locked in a toilet before.

“I often pop to the loo there on my way home and there are no signs up warning what time it closes. No one called out to ask if someone was in there, the gate was just locked.

“Luckily I’m not a panicky person and I had my phone on me.”

Rye resident Peter Davies said: “This could have had very serious consequences had it been an elderly person who did not have a mobile phone. They could have been trapped in a freezing toilet block overnight in December. It could easily have had a very tragic outcome.”

Adam Smith commented: “The district council cannot say they were unaware of issues with their contractors as regular Observer readers can otherwise testify. It also begs the question that if RDC are unable to efficiently manage their lavatory attendants, what hope for more complicated issues?”

It is not the first time Rother contractors have locked someone in the Crownfields toilets. A few years ago the Rye Observer reported the case of a Rye College student who found herself locked in.

Rother District Council head of amenities Kim Ross said: “As we have said, it is unacceptable that anyone should be locked in toilets by our contractor and we have spoken to them about taking precautions to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“We do recognise, however, that should an accident happen, we need to provide a quick response so we can get someone out of the toilets. As a result we will now be keeping a key with officers based in Rye and a key will also be kept in Rye Police Station, so the loos can be unlocked as soon as possible in such situations.”