An alarming finding from the research by Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, is just how few public toilets are now available.
Eight councils in the UK fail to provide any public toilets, and schemes that allow the use of store toilets without buying anything have dwindled, research by New Dynamics of Ageing has found.
Copeland, Hambleton, Bolsover District Council, Shropshire Council, Breckland Council, N-E Derbyshire District Council, North Dorset District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council no longer provide any public toilets.
There are 64 Community toilet schemes in the UK, which allow the public to use the toilets of participating local businesses. In most cases, councils pay businesses an annual fee to participate, between £200 in Cannock Chase to £1,560 in Wealdon a year.
As toilets are not a statutory provision, London Borough of Wandsworth discontinued their public toilets last year, due to government spending cuts they no longer paid businesses to take part. Private participants dropped from 75 to just two.
But it’s not all terrible news. The ‘Can’t wait card’ is a national membership scheme available for people with a bladder or bowel problem. The card states that the holder has a medical condition and needs to use a toilet quickly. As part of the scheme, Leeds City Council has agreed to cancel any penalty charges if holders of the card need to park in a hurry to find and use toilet facilities.
In London, toilet facilities in Marks & Spencer, Tesco, John Lewis, Sainsburys and Asda are available to use without the need to buy anything as part of the Mayor of London’s Open London scheme.
People are generally reluctant to talk about toilets, and a lack of knowledge about which toilets are available to use is a huge problem for those with bowel and bladder problems.