Provision of Public Toilets
In 2021, TG members voted to pass the following mandate:
TG is concerned that the decline in the number of free-to-access public toilets is a threat to citizens' hygiene, health, mobility, dignity and equality. We therefore urge Her Majesty's Government to make adequate provision of free public toilets a legal requirement for local authorities, supported by protected, sustained funding.
While this proposal was originally chosen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, it was during these lockdowns that the lack of provision was most keenly felt. With pubs, restaurants and other public buildings closed, and with national parks struggling to get clear answers on when they could reopen their toilets, people were left with no choice but to relieve themselves in park bushes or other hidden or semi-hidden areas - and others purposefully dehydrated themselves in an attempt to avoid the need in the first place.
Meanwhile, those with health conditions which cause continence problems found themselves effectively housebound, due to uncertainty over whether they would be able to access a toilet when one was needed - something which cannot always necessarily be predicted and may arise as a matter of urgency for these individuals.
Although life in the UK has returned more or less to normal by now, we still firmly believe that toilets which are freely and publicly accessible, without being limited to the opening hours of a business or withheld only for paying customers, are a vital resource which deserve to be adequately funded, to enable people to go out without fearing they will be unable to access a toilet when they need one and to avoid the health and sanitation issues presented when people feel they have no choice but to relieve themselves in public spaces such as parks.
Since the mandate was passed, we have been asking members to let us know the toilet provisions in their local area - this is still something we need more members to do, if we are to collate anything useful regarding this.
Specifically, we would like to know:
How many public toilets are available?
How many publicly accessible toilets are available, in supermarkets, cafes, shopping centres etc?
How many of those toilets are available at any hour; of those that are not, what times are they not accessible?
How many of these toilets are suitable for and accessible by disabled people?
How many of these toilets are suitable for and accessible by parents needing to take small children, especially if the parent has a pushchair or pram and is the only adult of the group?
We would also like to hear members' experiences, along with those of friends of family, that we could use as potential case studies when addressing this topic with Government and other external organisations.