London’s public toilets going down the pan

15 March 2004

According to this report, entitled ‘Toilets going to waste",
London is suffering from a severe shortage of public loos, and nowhere more so than in Islington, which has fewer public facilities per head than any other London borough.

In London as a whole, the number of toilets open for more than 12 hours
a day has decreased by half since 1995, causing severe difficulties for
thousands of elderly or incontinent people or those with young children.
Greens believe all levels of government should act to reverse this
decline, making good toilet provision a statutory requirement.

There is a huge disparity in the number of toilets per head of
population within London boroughs, with Greenwich in the lucky position of having one facility for every 5,000 people and Islington at the other end of the scale with 58,000 people fighting for the use of each public loo.

“Everyone needs to use a public toilet at some point," says Jon Nott.
"This report shows what a dreadful state London’s public conveniences
are in, partinularly in Islington, where you clearly need a bladder of
steel. This is a serious problem and if not addressed could lead to our
streets becoming a major health hazard.”

"In many parts of London, such as Islington, the only option for people
is the less civilised one," adds Noel Lynch, who compiled the report. "Our
streets are becoming an urban toilet, clearly unbefitting for a world-class

Where toilets do exist they are often in an appalling state of repair or
are inaccessible to many due to their positioning. Often toilets are
located down steep fights of stairs or are lacking the space to make them a feasible option for disabled people. Greens want to see local councils putting money into new toilets that are accessible to all members of the public.

"Poor toilet provision is an inconvenience for anyone but it is an
issue of discrimination for all those people who cannot gain access to toilets due to thoughtless positioning," says Noel. "I have heard from lots of people whose lives are restricted by the lack of toilets in London."

In order to halt the trend in declining numbers of public loos the
report makes the following recommendations:

The government should place councils under a legal duty to provide good toilets.

The mayor should ensure that all the spaces in his 100 Public Spaces
Programme have well-equipped, accessible toilets.

Boroughs should identify those areas that need the new or refurbished
toilets and embark on a 5-year programme to re-open, re-furbish or
install new toilets.

Boroughs should ensure that new developments include good quality toilets and secure agreements with the owners of large stores and pubs to make their toilets open to the public in return for council sponsored cleaning.


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