Despite the Chancellor of the Exchequer giving business rates relief for public toilets in last year’s Budget, a Times opinion piece this week claimed many local authorities have been forced to close facilities in order to make financial savings.
Local authorities are not legally required to provide toilets. So, across the country many have been closed as councils look to cut costs.
Fortunately for Bedford residents’ bladders, the Borough Council has closed just two public conveniences since April 2010.
Legs may have to stay crossed for longer elsewhere. According to the article, there is just one public toilet in the whole of Wiltshire, and the British Toilet Association estimates that half have closed over the past ten years.
Some local businesses have also helped shoppers ‘spend a penny’ by allowing people to use their toilets, even if they aren’t customers.
At present there are seven who are part of the Community Toilet Scheme:
- Beales – 5a Harpur Street (disabled, baby changing)
- Burger King – 9 Harpur Street (upstairs, baby changing)
- Café Crema – 59 High Street (unisex)
- Coffee With Art – 82 High Street (unisex, baby changing)
- KFC – 63 Tavistock Street – (no disability toilet nor baby changing)
- McDonalds – 9 High Street (upstairs, disabled downstairs)
- The Executive Snooker Club – 3a Lurke Street
A Borough Council spokesperson said: “The Council has found that by working with businesses in the town centre through the Community Toilet Scheme, we are able to ensure that there is a wide opportunity for clean, well-maintained facilities across the town in premises where people feel safe.
The Local Government Association added: “Councils are doing everything they can to keep toilets open.
“Faced with an £8 billion funding gap by 2025 councils have had to make tough choices about how to manage dwindling resources.”
If you have a business and would like to become part of the Community Toilet Scheme, call: 01234 718060.