Offa’s Dyke Centre & Public Toilets – Position Statement  

My name is Dave McGlade. I am a Knightonian and Chairman of the Offa’s Dyke Association (ODA), a purely voluntary role. I am not paid and along with other ODA trustees give my time freely. Without that gift of time and effort neither the ODA nor the Offa’s Dyke Centre would exist. The past sixteen months have of course been difficult for everyone and the Offa’s Dyke Centre is no exception. During this period of time I have given 30 – 40 hours a week, often a lot more, trying to keep the Centre afloat.      

In response to recent comments in social media I think it might be useful to provide a basic fact file on the ODA, the Offa’s Dyke Centre, our relationship with Powys County Council and the public toilets block attached to the Centre.

  1. The ODA is a volunteer-led membership-based charity.

  2. It was founded in 1969 by Knighton school teacher and archaeologist Frank Noble. Frank believed that if people were to understand the Dyke they first needed to have access to it. He therefore championed the NationalTrail and following a long campaign to persuade government to establish the Trail on the ground it was declared open 50 years ago on 10th July 1971. For more than half a century the ODA has tried to perpetuate Frank’s vision. 

  3. Our charitable aim is to enable the general public to understand, appreciate and enjoy Offa’s Dyke. We provide services to walkers and accommodation providers, we promote the National Trail and support the Trail Officer. We are also heavily involved with the conservation of Offa’s Dyke and our Conservation Fund financially supports projects that protect the monument.

  4. The Offa’s Dyke Centre is managed by the ODA. We believe that the provision of free to view interpretive displays for Knighton folk and visitors alike helps us to deliver our charitable aim.    

  5. The Centre was opened in 1999, a partnership between Powys County Council and the ODA. The ODA contributed £50,000 from its reserves towards its construction. 

  6. The public toilet block is not part of the ODA’s lease to run the Centre. Powys County Council used to run the toilets until three years ago when Knighton Town Council took them on. However, in January this year the Town Council decided that it no longer wanted to provide the amenity for the public.

  7. As a charity we cannot take on responsibility for the provision of public toilets, something that was hitherto paid for by the taxpayer. We could not afford to do so and our charitable aim would not allow it either. Charity law protects the funds donated for Offa’s Dyke related initiatives and projects meaning that they cannot be spent on anything else.

  8. Between 1999 and 2017 we received an annual grant from Powys County Council for the running of the Tourist Information Centre function. The grant was withdrawn in 2018. We used to receive rental income from hosting two National Trail Officers but that arrangement has since stopped. 

  9. Powys County Council owns the building and the ODA pays rent to the council for it.

  10. The ODA does not receive any form of revenue funding from either local or national government. We are entirely self-supporting and generate our income from memberships, donations, the Centre shop and the sale of teas, coffee, etc.  

  11. We do have Knightonian members in the ODA but of course would like to see more!

  12. We feel that we are also a victim of the decision to close the toilets. We cannot re-open without a toilet for our customers but we are fully prepared and very willing to talk to anyone, any organisation, any time in an attempt to find a sensible resolution to the problem. In the meantime, the Offa’s Dyke Centre, refurbished with funding provided by the Welsh Government, will have to remain closed.  

  13.  We always welcome volunteers to lend a hand with the running of the building, meeting visitors and helping to expand the café facilities. ODA members are also entitled to apply to become a trustee. 

I urge anyone who feels strongly about the importance of the centre to the town to get involved, whether as a volunteer, an ODA member or trustee, and help towards its future success. If you have any questions or ideas you would like to share feel free to email the centre at the address shown on our website rather than using social media.

Let us hope that the centre can reopen as soon as possible with facilities of which we can all be proud.

Dave McGlade

Chairman ODA