To: Mayor's consultation on the Budget 2013/2014
This is what I have put in to the consultation:
I attended the Mayor's consultation meeting on 28 November but I didn't feel that the Bear
Pit atmosphere was conducive to making a reasoned comment and getting a simple answer.
It seemed very much that those who shouted the loudest were the ones who got heard.
It is a complete mystery why you have picked some toilets for closure and not others.
At the meeting you stated that 19 Council-run toilets in Parks will remain open, (assuming
all 22 of the ones on the list close.)
One not on the current list is in St. Andrews Park. I am sure that the Friends of St Andrews
Park (FOSAP) are pleased that their Park's toilets have somehow escaped the cull, but there
are some legitimate questions to ask:
1) How was the decision reached and why? What was the criteria you used?
It can't be footfall – there can be no comparison in terms of usage, with the ones by the
Suspension Bridge, and humble St Andrews Park.
It can't be lack of community support – St George Park and St Andrews Park both have busy
community groups, but one is to lose it's Loos and one is to keep them.
2) As the reasons appear arbitrary, what can they do to ensure their Loos are not part of NEXT years round of cuts?
Over the years Public toilets have been closed down for various reasons, sometimes because
of goings- on that have resulted in them being closed on Police advice.
Sometimes they have been opened as a result of public pressure - the three Victorian
Pissoirs you have earmarked for closure have in the past been saved and renovated – they
are part of the civic history of Bristol.
It is a sad fact that the provision of public toilets has never been a statutory duty. But it
certainly is a sign of a civilised city.
Your Equality Impact Assessment form (5 November 2013) spells out the likely impact of
these closures on the young, the old, and people with disabilities.
There is also the question of public perception.
I really question what visitors to Bristol will think when they visit The Sea Walls or the
Suspension Bridge, or some of our lovely parks, Castle Park, Eastville Park, St George; and
see people scurrying into the bushes – especially parents of young children.
The Mayor mentioned the possibility of businesses or maybe community groups, taking on
the running of public toilet blocks, perhaps by incorporating them into other businesses.
As a start, can you not persuade the incredibly rich Suspension Bridge trust to take over the
maintainence of theirs, to set an example? You are talking of getting the Avon Gorge World
Heritage Status to attract even more tourists – it will be the only such site in the World
without Loos, that's for sure.
And you could explain in the Bristol Post how a community group like FOSAP could manage
their own Loos and invite them to do so. Could the council supply the basic supplies, and
keep the block under the council's third party insurance? How about paying the community
group a retainer, in return for a rota of volunteers?
What about bringing the upkeep of the Loos in Parks and on the Downs under the remit of
the Park Rangers? What would be so hard about that?
Please reconsider before you rubber stamp these closures.
There must be a way of keeping at least the ones in the tourist spots open, and safeguarding
some of the remaining ones.
Independent campaigner for Redland
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