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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Public toilets 'going down pan'
Toilet generic
Councils do not have to provide public toilets
London's public toilets are going down the pan, according to a campaign group.

The British Toilet Association (BTA) says many public toilets were created in Victorian times and little has been done to improve them since.

They are calling for councils to work with commercial firms to come up with a way to revamp London's loos.

The BTA says people may have to spend more than a penny when they visit public conveniences, if the service is to come up to scratch.

Public toilets are a discretionary service which councils are under no obligation to provide.

They are shutting toilets at every end of the road, so now we have to strain ourselves and wait
London bus driver

In the London Borough of Croydon, 12 public toilets have been closed there over the past 12 months.

Two toilets remain open outside the town hall, but are currently out of order.

A bus driver who had visited the toilets to find them shut told BBC London: "I need to go to the loo, but I've got to wait until I get back to the garage or do it by the side of the road.

"We used to have them, but now they are shutting them at every end of the road so now we have to strain ourselves and wait."

Peter Gibson of the Croydon Retired People's Association said for older and disabled people, who may need to go to the toilet more often, public conveniences were necessary to make them feel more secure.

'Awkward or embarrassed'

He said: "Shop keepers are very reluctant to let people who are not customers come in and use their toilet.

"Many people would feel a bit awkward or embarrassed to ask to use a toilet in a shop."

Richard Chisnell of the BTA said: "Everything else has changed in life, our priorities, our expectations, but our toilet stock has been left to rot and now we are suffering the consequences.

"We have emails and messages from people saying what has happened to public pride and quality of public toilet service."

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