Caroline Russell in public toilets

News from Caroline Russell: Londoners needs their loos

10 June 2020

As lockdown measures are slowly changing, Londoners are able to make more trips out of doors but are finding the lack of toilets inconvenient, Caroline Russell AM today called for London loos to be reopened.

Caroline wrote to Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, to highlight that loos have been overlooked in the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund.

With more cafes and bars tentatively reopening and serving customers outdoors, the issue of where to spend a penny after buying a pint has caused upset in neighbourhoods around newly reopened pubs, as punters use public spaces to pee.

Caroline Russell says:

Given the situation we are now living in, where the normal loos people would use are shut, we are all finding ourselves constrained by ‘loo leashes’ which are so much more restrictive for people with disabilities who need urgent access to facilities or proper changing places toilets. 

Earlier this year I put forward a fully-costed plan to the Mayor that found £18m to build new public toilets around TfL stations, including world class accessible ones, and make all the existing ones free. It found support across the assembly, because who hasn’t ever been caught short?

I have urged the minister to implement this package as part of TfL’s rescue fund, to allow people, even now living more locally, to be able to enjoy a day out with children, with people who have more urgent needs for loos, without restricting their lives more than necessary.

We are all finding this time very difficult, but we should not be further limiting people who want to escape their homes and take a walk.

Caroline’s proposed amendment to the Mayor’s budget 2020-21 suggested spending £18m to make all Transport for London (TfL) toilets free to use and added 32 new automatic toilets, 32 new toilets blocks including both accessible and conventional toilets, and six changing places toilets alongside new or existing accessible toilet blocks. This would have meant 262 more toilets for Londoners.

Notes to editors

[1] City Hall Greens Budget Amendment 2020-2021, Jan 2020

[2] Letter from Caroline Russell to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Jun 2020

Caroline’s asks to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government in full:

TfL as a public body should be providing publicly accessible toilets. As part of the Government’s bailout, it would be good if a condition was included that TfL implement the toilet improvement plan proposed in my budget amendment earlier this year.

Further, will the Government pledge to support the Royal Society for Public Health’s Calls to Action:
•    The Government to make the provision of public toilets compulsory on a well-planned and regulated basis. 
•    Potty parity laws to be emulated in the UK to ensure fair provision for women.
•    The Government to reverse years of funding cuts to local authorities and invest in our civic infrastructure.
•    National and local government to pilot innovative new ways of financing public toilets, including a “spend a penny” campaign. 
•    Break down the toilet taboo: public loos and their role in assisting hygiene, hydration, exercise and more must be more freely addressed in public health discourse.

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