The Provision of Public Toilets
HC 636, Twelfth Report of Session 2007-08 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons - Communities and Local Government Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
Public toilets matter to everybody, regardless of their age, class, ethnic origin, gender, mental ability or physical ability, and they are even more important to certain sections of society, including older people, disabled people, women, families with young children, and tourists.
While the Public Health Act 1936 gives local authorities a power to provide public toilets, it imposes no duty to do so, and this lack of compulsion, together with a perception of nuisance associated with them, has arguably resulted in a steady decline in the provision of public toilets in recent years. This decline needs to be addressed.
The Committee supports the Government's Strategic Guide on the provision of public toilets, 'Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets' (2008), which highlighted existing powers at the disposal of local authorities that can be used to improve public access to toilets. Some local authorities have developed strategies for the provision of clean, safe, accessible toilets, including partnerships with local businesses (such as pubs, cafes and shops) that make their own toilets available to non-customers.
Other local authorities are less committed, which has led to great disparities between different towns and regions. Some local authorities may have used the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as an excuse to close public toilets, rather than bring them up to the standards required by the Act.
This report seeks to consider the evidence and to produce simple and practical recommendations to improve this important social amenity. The over-riding recommendation is that the Government imposes a duty on local authorities to develop a public toilet strategy, which should involve consultation with the local community, for their own area.
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