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Lack of public toilets threatens health of the nation

The lack of public toilets in the UK is causing many people to stay at home, especially those who frequent toilets regularly, a report has shown.

According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), more than 700 council-run toilet facilities have closed since 2010 and there is a shortage of public toilets available.

public toilets

In the survey where more than 2,000 people took part, they found three in four adults (74%) believe there are not enough toilets in their area and one in five (20%) said a lack of facilities deters them from leaving home as often as they would like.

The challenge is for those that frequent toilets more often including the elderly, those with weaker bladders and ongoing conditions such as diabetes and bowel conditions.

For those that brave going out in public and do not have access to public toilets, they may find alternatives in supermarkets, restaurants or cafes – although it is not always convenient.

According to Focus, a commercial washroom supplier, for toilets to be safe for the public, they must include practicality, privacy and easily cleanable surfaces. Certain materials such as wall cladding are made via a specific machine process to make them durable and resistant to various bacteria and diseases.

Chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “Public toilets are no luxury: it’s high time we begin to see them as basic and essential parts of the community – just like pavements and street lights – that enable people to benefit from and engage with their surroundings.”

“It is deeply concerning that, amidst a national obesity crisis, at a time when public health policy is to encourage outdoor exercise, our declining public toilet provision is in fact encouraging more people to stay indoors.”

“Standing in the way of this necessary and serious policy discussion is a stubbornly persistent ‘toilet taboo’, a decade of cuts to local authorities, and an increasingly ingrained notion that public toilets are merely a ‘nice-to-have’.”

A local government association spokesman said: “Faced with an £8bn funding gap by 2025 and growing demand pressures on adult social care, children’s services and homelessness support, councils have had to make tough choices about how to manage dwindling resources.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “Councils, not central government, are responsible for managing their own resources and providing the local services people need, including public toilets.”