Following extensive consultation across the city, Greens confirm that public toilets will stay open, with plans to open more facilities to the public and demand the government recognise toilet access as a legal right
Brighton & Hove City Council is current undergoing its annual budget process, and Greens have stressed how the dire economic context has forced them to make extremely difficult decisions. A recent council report outlined some of those financial challenges.
Greens say that being presented with a significant financial gap meant that cutting vital public services like nurseries and public toilets looked to become a necessity. Highlighting passionate responses from city residents, Greens say they have joined with residents to ensure that public toilets are protected from savings this year.
Budget proposals published yesterday highlight that alternative funding has been found in order to keep the toilets open, while limiting further damage elsewhere. By making the significant decision to delay certain capital projects, the Greens have found a viable way to both save public toilets and produce a balanced budget.
Greens say that high-footfall locations will stay open and sites that are already closed are being reviewed with plans to open them as soon as feasible. Greens also confirm that they will continue to drive conversations to make toilets in cafes and other locations accessible to the public, with a dedicated project manager to be recruited. This will ensure the council can work with businesses and communities to improve toilet provision over the coming months and years. This work will be reported to the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee later this year.
Greens say that public toilets should be a legal responsibility for all councils. Caroline Lucas MP has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to recognise “that public toilets are essential social infrastructure, vital for public health and inclusion, and necessary for people with long term conditions, disabilities, young children, homeless people and others of all ages to get out and about”. The motion also calls on the Government to provide funding to local councils to keep them open.
Councillor Elaine Hills, Co-Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said:
“We are pleased that, thanks to the hard work of Green councillors and officers, we have found a solution that enables toilets to remain open. Facilitates that are used frequently will be prioritised and stay open, and we’ll be Reviewing the financial viability and condition of other facilities, with a view to updating and bringing into use as many as we can.
“We’re also looking at this issue in the long-term. Recently, Councillor John called on Southern Water to pay up and fund the city’s toilets, and we will continue to make this need clear. We are proposing a concerted effort to engage with cafes and other such commercial sites across the city, to encourage and facilitate the use of more toilets for public use.
“Simultaneously, we are joining with Caroline Lucas and campaigners in calling on the government to recognise toilet access as a statutory duty. Together, we are demanding that this recognition is ratified alongside significant governmental funding for local authorities, so that we are able to provide their residents with this basic service.”
Councillor Steve Davis, the other Co-Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, added:
“We always knew this Tory-rigged budget would be a lose-lose scenario for the city. The only way to get through it is to be honest with residents about the situation, to get their contributions on how to prioritise their most urgent needs, and to make the tough decisions that keep vital public services alive.
“Greens run in order to stand up for our communities, and I am proud to say that wherever possible, within this horrifying context we find ourselves in, we have managed to stay true to that, with toilets and a whole range of issues. It’s tough, but we’re making it work – we ask the city for the solidarity and compassion that it always gives.”