Big Issue: Good public loos are the hallmark of a civilised society
PROVISION of clean and conveniently positioned public loos is the hallmark of a civilised society and one that treats people with dignity.
Although councils are not by law required to provide public toilets, surely closing and demolishing purpose-built loos is seen as a soft option and not in the best interest of members of the public?
The closure of the toilet block for disabled people in King's Square in particular, I feel, was scandalous as the reasons given for its demolition was due to misuse by drunks and drug addicts who obtained the special "Rada"' key to gain access to the building.
Surely, with all the CCTV cameras around the area and the knowledge that there were problems with the vandalism there, police should have been more proactive and done more to alleviate the problems rather than make life more difficult for disabled people of all ages. Once again, the few have spoilt it for the many.
Yes, the city council has put in place the Community Toilet Scheme to replace the closures but more and more people are calling for public toilets to be reinstated.
Women, disabled people and the elderly feel the most angst over the loss of public loos as many people are shy about cheekily entering commercial premises without any intention whatsoever of buying anything, just to use their toilets.
Elderly people in particular just do not like being put into that position. Maybe it's an age thing, as no doubt most younger people would have no qualms in doing so.
Once again, very little thought or empathy seems to have gone into the needs of the elderly or disabled people. Have councillors not got elderly or disabled family members? Do they not realise that people as they grow older experience an urgency to go to the loo more frequently, and that being forced to "hold on" can cause bladder infections?
For women it's more complicated, as they can't just nip into an alley to relieve themselves like men can. This happens a lot in Gloucester, and can be a health risk to others. We're hearing that the Tourist Information Centre is going to be moved as its lease has run out and the council is looking for larger premises. Would this not be an ideal opportunity to provide new public toilets in or in very close proximity to the new premises?
I think that would be an excellent idea and very popular with the general public and visitors alike.
I've been to Abergavenny numerous times in the past few years and they have bucked the trend and have invested in building a large brand new public toilet block. It's free to use, and it's kept spotlessly clean. Other places have done the same. Why can't Gloucester?
With approximately 40 per cent of people now being in the elderly age group, surely councils must think very carefully about what is provided locally to help make going into the city centre a positive experience for all age groups.
I know of elderly local residents who plan their "toilet route" beforehand when thinking of shopping in Gloucester – sad but true. Others won't go shopping there at all because they are unsure where toilets are these days and don't want to have the distress of having an "accident" should they not find a toilet in time.
When visitors to the area alight from a coach or car the first thing they want is a loo, then the Tourist Information Centre. So, if they were next to each other, or incorporated within the same building, that would be excellent. That way a watchful eye could deter those hell bent on vandalising them.
The other point to mention is the size of cubicles. We must cater for the larger numbers of people who use walking aids, or for those who need carers to help them. Also those who need baby changing areas. Planners need to take these problems into account as size really IS everything!