SHOULD it be down to local businesses to provide public toilets?
Caerphilly County Borough Council is calling on businesses to offer their toilets free of charge for public use. Businesses that decide to take part in the scheme will be given a sticker to display in their window to advertise the service.
The council has a duty to review the local toilets strategy every five years, within a year of an election, but this does not mean it has an obligation to provide public toilets.
Currently, most public toilets in Caerphilly County Borough are in libraries and leisure centres, in addition to some cafes.
The local toilets strategy was presented to the council’s environment and sustainability scrutiny committee at a meeting held on Tuesday March 21.
The report states poor provision of public toilets can negatively impact vulnerable groups such as older people, with some less likely to leave the house because of a lack of adequate facilities.
Corporate director for economy and environment at the council, Mark S. Williams, said: “There’s no legal duty on a local authority to provide public conveniences.
“As part of the austerity measures a number of years ago that were imposed on us by central government, this council took the decision to cease the provision of public toilets as part of that exercise to save significant amounts of money, which we had to do at the time.”
Independent councillor Nigel Dix said: “If the council aren’t going to provide toilets to save money, why would the businesses do it.
“If we’re not prepared to do it as a multi-million pound organisation, why would the local shop if they’re not going to get any remuneration or help to do it?”
Cllr Tudor Davies MBE, who represents Bargoed, said the council previously provided local businesses with a £500 grant to offer their toilets to the public.
Ceri Edwards, environmental health manager at the council, said the grant is no longer available.
Labour councillor Davies said he was “a bit disappointed” with the number of public toilets in the county borough decreasing since last year.
Ms Edwards said: “The feedback that we have had anecdotally from individuals is the cost-of-living crisis is kicking in, and proprietors are not prepared to provide toilet facilities with the additional monitoring, the cleaning, and all the ancillaries that go with it, when people don’t pay to go in and use them.
“It’s an unfortunate way of life at this time. ”
The public toilets strategy will now go to full council to be considered.
A map of public toilets across Wales can be found here.