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British Toilet Association's Ray Martin asks Guardian readers to support loo campaign
Ray Martin, who represents the British Toilet Association on the British Cleaning Council, was featured in one of Britain's most popular newspapers last week. Interviewed by The Guardian, he highlighted the plight of our nation's washrooms and urged UK firms to open toilets to non-customers as part of the 'Use Our Loos' campaign.
The number of public toilets in the UK has dropped by more than a third (39%) in the past two decades, laments Ray, who says that the average council in England now runs only 15 facilities.
He is urging cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops to open up their toilets for general public use under an initiative to tackle the growing national shortage which is preventing some of the most vulnerable amongst us from venturing out, for fear of not being able to find a toilet when they need to.
The total of facilities has fallen from 3,955 in 2000 to 2,414 this year, according to data submitted to the BTA by 266 councils in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In England alone, the average council runs only 15 public toilets, with each having to serve an average of more than 12,500 people.
"We know councils are under immense pressure with their budgets and despite having no legal obligation to maintain these public facilities they have continued to try to halt the rapid rate of decline," Ray told the reporter. "Use our Loos is a community-oriented solution not about opening more public toilets but making more toilets public that already exist."
Each participating outlet will be encouraged to have a sticker on display so any member of the public needing the toilet can easily spot a business happy for people to use its toilets without necessarily being a customer. The scheme is similar to a model encouraging businesses to offer free water refills to non-customers, which aims to break the stigma around asking for water for free even if customers have not purchased anything else.
The report reveals that some areas - including Bolsover, Milton Keynes, Redditch and Wakefield - are without a single free public toilet. Ray says that this could be a challenge for many, particularly older people, families with small children and people with medical conditions.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association told The Guardian: "Councils are doing everything they can to keep public toilets open and ensure there is provision for people with particular needs.
"With substantial reductions to their budgets, councils have had to make tough choices about public facilities but are finding innovative ways of tackling this issue."
16th August 2018