Monday, 12 October 2009

More public toilets please: they're good for business, and people!

For several months now the disabled public toilet on the corner of Upper Rock Gardens and Upper St James's Street has been boarded up.

I'm able bodied and relatively fit: I can get about and tend to have plenty of warning when I might need to go.

Unfortunately that isn't the case for many. Those who are less mobile, or have urinary problems, for example, often need to be able to go to the lavatory at very short notice - and rely on public toilets being open, clean, working and accessible to do so.

If they're boarded up, dirty or, worst of all, sold off to boost the council's coffers by a few quid, there are some who will never leave home for fear of being caught short while out and about.

And that applies to many living in the Eastern Road area wanting to access the businesses, services and leisure facilities offered in the St James's Street area: exactly those people affected by this closure.

I raised this at least week's meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council, and was shocked to discover that the council has no plans at all to re-open the toilet - that instead it hopes local pubs, cafes and shops will throw open their toilets for public use and, where that fails, people will walk either up the hill to Queen's Park or down to the seafront, and go there instead.

That really isn't viable for many, as the Tory cabinet members responsible would know if they ever used public lavatories themselves.

So come on, let older, disabled and pregnant residents off the 'bladder leash' that keeps so many at home, by providing a few more public toilets and mending the ones that are already there.

It's not just about making life easier for some of our most vulnerable neighbours, it's good for business too.

If you're interested in seeing the debate in full, it's available on the council's archived webcast. I can't make it work in Firefox, but if you're an IE user, follow this link, and then click on 'Index Points' and again at 01:10:47.

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