As council spending cuts across Britain are spreading nationwide gloom, it seems that the phasing out of public toilets is causing particular concern, according to recent reports. With the British Toilet Association predicting that up to 1,000 public conveniences will be closed across the UK this year, it seems that councils regard these essential amenities as superfluous, requiring high maintenance costs that they would rather do without.
As the Edinburgh Evening News reported on 7th January 2011, ‘as well as shutting half [of Edinburgh's] 30 loos, the council proposes abandoning plans to spend £400,000 on much-needed improvements, even though this was a priority of the local Lib Dems before they went into a council coalition with the SNP.'
The need for public loos in parts of the country that rely considerably on tourism is simply unquestionable. Indeed, in an article in the Independent this week, architect and designer of the Emerald Isle public toilets in Notting Hill, Piers Gough, states that ‘public loos are a necessary part of a civilised world'. Surely, then, if the expense is the sole turn-off for councils, it is now in the hands of the architect to maintain the dignity of our dear lavatories by providing effective design solutions to reduce long-term cost.
As Mike Bone, director of the British Toilet Association, clearly states: 'intelligent design and built-in durability will reduce long-term maintenance and cleaning costs.' Furthermore, the design of the facilities should be so appealing that people wouldn't mind spending a few pennies to use them; thus regaining some of the initial cost. If councils can come round to investing in effective architecture for these essential public buildings, the nation will reap the benefits in the long run.