Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 13:53 UK

Plan to ease public loo shortage

Toilet
The assembly government wants more public access to toilets

Filling stations, pubs and other small businesses are being enlisted to address the shortage of public toilets.

Under a new assembly government scheme, local authorities will be given up to 18,000 to encourage firms to open their loos to the public.

Local Government Minister Brian Gibbons said there would now be an incentive for businesses to help councils widen access to toilet facilities.

But said it shouldn't be seen as an alternative to good public toilets.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme at The Three Horse Shoes pub in Bridgend Dr Gibbons said: "Being able to use clean and accessible public facilities is important to everyone.

"It is also important that they are accessible to all sections of society, including people with disabilities and families with young children, they are hygienic and located where they are most needed."

People use us as a public convenience anyway. They walk in, don't purchase anything and walk out. It's our soap, our electricity and our water
Elaine Mahoney

Mike Bone from the British Toilet Association welcomed the move.

"The majority of closures of public toilets in the last 20 years has been due to the discretionary nature of the service, coupled with the pressure on local authority finances," he said.

"This initiative provides all Welsh local authorities with the opportunity to review their public facilities strategy whilst increasing the provision of toilets available to the public."

But Elaine Mahoney, who runs Chaplin's cafe in Merthyr Tydfil town centre said the scheme would have a detrimental effect.

"I wouldn't be happy at all. People use us as a public convenience anyway. They walk in, don't purchase anything and walk out. It's our soap, our electricity and our water.

"It's about time the council built some new public conveniences rather than closing them and relying on small businesses like us."

It's hoped the scheme will be up and running by April next year.




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