The Daily Telegraph

Spending a penny should cost a pound, says charity

- By Daily Telegraph Reporter

PEOPLE should be charged £1 for using public lavatories or they will become casualties to cuts, a charity has warned.

Raymond Martin, the managing director of the British Toilet Associatio­n, said the facilities will have to start paying for themselves because no funding is coming from the Government, and councils are having to cut back.

He believes charging just £1 per use could earn struggling local government­s millions – rather than being an easy cut for council bosses who have no legal obligation to keep lavatories open.

And if councils cannot afford to clean them properly, the toilets could become riddled with viruses, Mr Martin warned. The 66-year-old said: “Money is just going to get tighter and tighter and the crisis is going to have a significan­t impact on toilets. Toilets that are damaged by vandalism and antisocial behaviour will probably fall into disrepair.

“If you let toilets get dirty there is a danger behind it; if we don’t clean them we are actually putting lives at risk. I think the days of the free toilet are gone.

“Councils would like to provide them but there’s a cost and they have to recover that money. It will help pay for running the service and reduce antisocial behaviour by maybe 80 per cent. I don’t see a way that money is coming from the Government at this point.”

Lavatory blocks can cost as much as £15,000 a year, meaning that some councils could free up hundreds of thousands of pounds by scrapping them.

Mr Martin believes that the number of public lavatories may have plummeted by 90 per cent in 30 years.

By paying to use them, lavatories will have the funds to be kept clean and safe, he said. He also claims that councils could pay for lavatories by using them as advertisin­g space.

Councils have no legal need to provide public lavatories and many services have already been cut as the Government tightens funding.

But they are essential to the elderly, the disabled and people with conditions such as IBS and Crohn’s disease.

They are also an essential for travelling workers, from those in healthcare to lorry drivers.

And as places with poor facilities turn away visitors, Mr Martin believes they have a knock-on effect of 20 to 40 times the price of keeping lavatories open.

Mr Martin continued: “At the BTA we believe in free toilets but being pragmatic there is going to have to be a charge.”

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