A Scrutiny Panel to Consider Public Toilet Provision !

29 November 2012…..The physical distress occasioned when nature calls is pretty brutal.  Outings become unpleasant and even frightening if one is caught out and there is nowhere to go. 
In March, 2012, in the wake of budget cuts announcing further public toilet closures and removal of attendants, an epetition was raised seeking to reverse this.  It was delivered to Full Council on Thursday, 25th October and referred on to the Environment and Sustainability Committee for reply. 
On Wednesday, 28th November it received its reply.  Chair, Cllr Pete West, was kind enough to allow a short  re-presentation address to it and three details were conveyed which had in recent days arisen.  
1….. NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) had that day been in the news advising a minimum need for two and a half hours of walking or cycling a week to be undertaken to maintain health. 
2……The previous day, a letter in the Argus from former Cllr and currently serving Older People’s Council representative, Francis Tonks, had mentioned that the OPC campaigns for more benches and public toilets.  
3….. a newly registered planning application from the Hove Recreation Ground Rugby Club includes removal of that public toilet.  Ironically it had actually been included in budget cuts and then saved earlier in the year! 
The point was additionally made that there are no public toilets the entire length of Western Road which is probably an adverse influence on the fortunes of the retail environment there.  And no public seating points apart from the broken benching around the tree by H&M.  It was suggested too that, if the Green Administration is serious about getting people out of their cars, walking needed to be made possible by providing public toilets.  For many people, the lack of public toilet provision makes for no-go areas if they are on foot.  
Cllr West replied that a Scrutiny Panel had been set up to look into public toilet provision and it had met on Monday for the first time in order to establish its terms of reference.  Members of this Panel are:  Green Cllr Amy Kennedy, Conservative Cllr Denise Cobb, Labour Cllr Alan Robbins as well as John Eyles from the Older People’s  Council.  Cllr West was moved to request this Scrutiny Panel be assembled in the wake of the Full Council receipt of the saveHOVE epetition which contained a lot of justifying evidence and a link to an important health news article concerning the issue.
When saveHOVE receives the full text of the reply given, this article will be edited to reflect any more information not recalled as this is written now.  The Argus has an article in preparation on this too.
HURRAH!  There is hope for all the pregnant ladies, disabled and elderly, incontinent and small children in their frightened agony and urgency crying out “Mummy, I need a wee!”  There is hope for all the millions of visitors to the city who are not presently offered adeqate loo provision (or public seating points).  If we are to call ourselves a good host to them, this must be addressed.  We must make their visits comfortable.  Streets are only accessible if physical needs are catered to.  We linger where there are seating points and toilet provision.
There is no legal requirement for a local authority to provide public toilets (or public seating).  Is this the main reason for the slow loss countrywide of more and more and more of them?  Why are they not seen as a basic health and safety issue?  Before the motor car and omnibus, when walking and horse-drawn carriages were the way one got about, public toilets proliferated as towns grew.  
We have come full circle (but now for health and ‘placemaking’ reasons) and we must again see public toilet provision proliferating – with attendants!   But lets change the name, eh?  We need all-purpose Comfort Stations providing more than just a loo.   But that’s a whole another article for another day, complete with the design-and-content ideas…..

About saveHOVE

Concerned with planning, development and the conservation of historic Hove, we actively seek to prevent inappropriate, negligent and abusive redevelopments!
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