Inconvenient! Toilet closures agreed

Published on: 20 Dec 2017

BRISTOL City Council have agreed plans to make £400,000 of savings by cutting the provision of public toilets on streets and in parks across the city, writes Keri Beckingham.

As part of the Your Neighbourhoods Consultation, three different options were proposed for how toilets could be run in the future. Just over half of those who responded were in favour of closing all 18 of the current street toilets and setting up a new Community Toilet Scheme, which was the recommendation that was put to the Cabinet at the meeting on 4 December. As part of the scheme, local businesses and the voluntary sector will be encouraged to open up access to at least 36 alternative facilities across Bristol, free of charge, with the aim of making sure that at least 70% of the provision would be wheelchair accessible.

However, concerns have been raised about how the cuts will affect particular members of the community, such as the elderly, the homeless, parents with young children, people with Dementia and the disabled. 

At the meeting, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Asher Craig addressed concerns that had been raised as part of the consultation, saying: “Access to publicly available toilets is important, but the current sites are not fit-for-purpose.

“The aim is that by the time toilets close, there will be a working network in place, and the recommendation is to double the amount of publicly available toilet sites and ensure that they are spread across the city.”

Within our area, toilets in Westbury Village, Greystoke Avenue, at the top of Whiteladies Road and on the Downs are affected. Speaking of the closures and the impact that they may have on the local community, Councillor Geoff Gollop said: “The council has not maintained public toilets for many years, despite attempts from councillors to change that policy. Sadly the proposed closures were therefore inevitable, as the facilities were in such a poor state.

“I understand that toilets on the Downs should transfer to the Downs Committee, so that this essential provision can be maintained. However, for other locations we will be dependent upon local businesses taking part in community provision.”

The council now plans to work with Bristol Ageing Better to produce a paper based map, so that people can plan their trips in Bristol with toilet access in mind. There will be an online version of the map and prominent signage to highlight the toilets involved in the scheme. Recruitment of businesses to take part in the scheme will begin straightaway and where council toilets are closing, the aim is to signpost people to a nearby facility before closure so there is no gap in provision.

The council is working closely with Crohns and Colitis UK to ensure that its members are aware of the proposed new locations, and to raise awareness across the city of the needs of people living with Crohns and Colitis. They will also continue to work with St Mungo’s to develop an appropriate solution for homeless people too.

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