Only five public toilets left in Stafford borough
More than two thirds of public toilet facilities in Stafford have been flushed away over the past 30 years.
Just five public conveniences maintained by Stafford Borough Council remain open, a committee was told on Thursday, after Councillor Gillian Pardesi asked how many had closed since 2003 and how many had been in existence when the authority was formed in 1974.
Council officer Robert Simpson responded: “Lavatory humour is a reference in British culture but provision of public toilets is no laughing matter.
"They are even more important to certain sectors of society, including older people, disabled people and families with young children.
"The number of public conveniences available at this moment in time is five.
"They are in Broad Street, Stafford; Station Road, Stone; Crown Street, Stone; Stone Road, Eccleshall and Brocton Road, Milford.
"From our recollection in 2003 there were potentially 11 public conveniences. Going back to the late 1980s we had 16.
"There has been a steady decline. I would say the decline is not as great as nationally."
Mr Simpson added that alongside the public conveniences there were toilet facilities elsewhere that were open to the public, such as in Stafford’s Victoria Park and Railway Station, the town’s indoor market, the Civic Centre, Rowley Park and Stafford Castle.
The response sparked calls at Thursday’s Community Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee for the location of public toilet facilities to be more widely publicised.
Councillor Pardesi said: “Members of this committee may be aware that one fifth of our population thinks twice about leaving home through concerns about not finding a public convenience. I am sure members will agree our wellbeing can be affected by how much you are able to leave your homes and exercise.
“Apart from being a social exclusion this also affects our economy; 43 per cent of our population has conditions that require the frequent use of a toilet – people with disabilities and young children and so on. Over three million over 65s experience some kind of urinary incontinence.
I am aware that supermarkets and commercial premises do provide conveniences, however there are people who feel obliged to buy a drink or an item in order to qualify to enter a toilet. Can I therefore ask this committee to agree to a course of action to encourage the use of free conveniences in its own buildings, such as the Civic Centre and the market.
“I ask this committee to work with the Local Government Association (LGA) to promote a national campaign in conjunction with relevant commercial businesses to also allow use of their conveniences free of charge on a much wider basis than is available right now.”
Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for environment and heath, said the authority would be writing to the LGA in relation to public toilet provision.
He added: “There was a bill in Parliament to scrap domestic rates on public lavatories, therefore reducing their running costs.”
Public conveniences closed in recent years include the former facilities at the North Walls and Doxey Road car parks and Bridge Street in Stafford town centre.
In 2011 the Station Road toilets in Stone also faced closure, but the town council offered to take them on.