BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 13:33 GMT
Cash for pubs to offer loo breaks
Public toilets
Public toilets are being closed due to funding pressures
The desperate dash to find a public loo on Britain's high streets could be eased with a plan to pay businesses to open their toilets to non-customers.

Pubs and restaurants across the UK will be encouraged to open their toilets in exchange for as much as 600 a year.

The government is expected to urge local councils to adopt the scheme in order to address a national shortage.

But the British Toilet Association said the idea is only part of the answer to a problem plaguing the nation.

Richard Chisnell, director of the association, said the review of the public toilet situation by the Department for Communities and Local Government is supposed to be released early next month.

'Moral duty'

Mr Chisnell said he worries that the DCLG is not being forceful enough when it comes to pushing local authorities to fulfil a "moral duty" to offer clean, accessible toilets to members of the public.

"My feeling is that this is a very watered-down attempt to encourage local authorities to act," he said of the government's planned guide.

Public toilets are vitally important to everyone
Richard Chisnell, British Toilet Association

The scheme to pay local businesses builds on the success of Twickenham, where 66 businesses agreed to display window stickers offering their toilets to non-customers in exchange for 600 a year from Richmond upon Thames council.

Mr Chisnell said that plan worked largely because it was well-marketed and includes finger point signs throughout the community to help the public find the participating restaurants and pubs.

But, he added, the community restaurant scheme should only be "one important tool in the public toilet armoury".

Well-known chains including Pizza Express, KFC and the Slug and Lettuce pub joined Twickenham's Community Toilet Scheme.

Westminster toilet sign
Westminster council is using mobile technology to point people to toilets

The DCLG will express "growing public concern" at the declining number and standard of public conveniences next month and urge other councils to follow suit.

A DCLG spokeswoman said: "Far from dictating how councils should provide more public conveniences, we hope to share the best examples of what is already being done, so that other councils can consider what could work best in their area."

Last November, Westminster City Council launched the "SatLav" mobile phone service which alerts people to the nearest public toilets.

Texting the word "toilet" to the number 80097 prompts a quick-response text with details of the nearest facilities and their opening times.

Mr Chisnell said the lack of public facilities is damaging to commerce, tourism and the country's reputation and needs to be addressed well in advance of London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.

"Public toilets are vitally important to everyone."

Toilet closures isolate elderly
27 May 07 |  Health
MPs call for more public toilets
30 Mar 07 |  Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific