The British Toilet Association (BTA) has called for improved legislation and more government funding to address the current ‘appalling’ lack of public toilet provision.
The body says that public toilets are "in crisis and rapidly vanishing, with many of those that remain displaying totally unacceptable levels of cleanliness and hygiene and the Covid-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse".
Many public toilets have been locked down since the start of the pandemic due to a lack of cleaning, funding or any government guidance on how to get them fit for purpose, the BTA said.
It argued that the public was "being forced to go to the toilet in streets, beaches, open spaces and beauty spots, causing street fouling figures to escalate, aggravating the risk of Covid-19 transmission and leaving the local authorities to foot considerable clean-up costs".
With no legal requirement in place to force local authorities to provide or run public toilets then, the BTA believes the majority of councils across the UK do not allocate sufficient resources or funds to the provision of public toilets.
It is calling for the government to make sanitation and hygiene a major priority and support local authorities to stop the closures, open new facilities and establish a new set of standards of hygiene and cleanliness.
The BTA says it has been "lobbying for action since the pandemic began, asking questions of Ministers and the PM, writing to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and has taken part in a Zoom meeting with Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, the Minister for Building Safety and Communities and other Members of the House of Lords but without an adequate response".
It is currently preparing to write again to Lord Greenhalgh and also to the new Health Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid.
Raymond Martin, managing director of the BTA said: “We are appalled at the total lack of funding over many years and extremely concerned at the closures and unprecedented low levels of public toilet facilities before, during and going into the future. This is now a crisis.
Martin added: “From the very first announcement of the arrival of Covid-19 the government has been repeatedly telling everyone to “wash your hands” but how much money has it allocated, spent or even committed to increasing sanitation and hygiene during a pandemic? The answer is nothing. Hand washing materials cost money, hot water costs money, cleaning materials and staff cost have to be factored in, as well as the return to an acceptable level of provision.
“The lack of public toilet provision leaves families with young children, business travellers, drivers delivering our daily essentials across the country, staycationers, day-trippers those on longer holiday breaks, older persons wanting to visit family and many more people wondering when they might find relief....It’s time that this government made sanitation and hygiene a major priority and supported the local authorities to stop the closures of public toilets, restore standards and tackle this pandemic in our public buildings and spaces.”
Facilitate has approached the government for a response.
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