Campaign for bog-standard services targets MPs hoping to take their seats
As the general election gets underway and candidates fight to defend their seats, an urgent campaign has begun to ensure the public can defend theirs.The British Toilet Association (BTA) has launched its campaign for more and better public toilet provision throughout the UK and is appealing to all candidates to consider the impact of poor toilet provision on constituency voting patterns.
"With an increasing number of cost-cutting public convenience closures and the outgoing Government's unwillingness to make public toilets a statutory public service, both residents and visitors are feeling increasingly isolated when it comes to satisfying their daily toileting needs away from home," said BTA Director Richard Chisnell.
The BTA feel this is more than just a flush-in-the-pan issue and says it could cause a big splash when choosing who to vote for. It claims Shepway District Council, which includes Michael Howard's constituency of Folkestone, swung to the Tories after the Lib Dem Council closed all of its public toilets in response to last year's Council Tax capping threat.
At present, UK local authorities are under no legal obligation to provide any public toilets - only at their discretion. Similarly, cafes, shops, pubs and restaurants are not required to provide customer toilets. The same rule applies to transport operators, meaning there are very few conveniences on the London Underground.
Already, says Chisnell, the strain is beginning to show: "Market forces seem to be the preferred regulator, but, with a shrinking local authority discretionary public toilet service and continued reluctance on the part of many commercial loo providers to allow public use of their toilets, Britain's reputation as a nice place to visit is under some significant self-inflicted threat."
The BTA is urging everyone to vote for candidates who would support a statutory obligation on all public service providers to provide a properly regulated public toilet service, with minimum standards of provision for all users.
It hopes this will help Britain move away from being seen no-go area and enhance our reputation for extremely high bog-standards.
By David Hopkins