To: Mayor's consultation on the Budget 2013/2014

Item: R-PL-019

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.

Stella Perrett

Independent campaigner for Redland

Views: 80

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Comment by Stella Perrett on December 20, 2013 at 10:10

Jo, I will certainly bring it to your meeting in January, but that may be too late, as  the Public Convenience Closure decision is due to be taken at Cabinet on January 16th, see link:

http://www.bristol.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/council_and...

As you can see there is no consultation or scrutiny planned for it and no documents to inform the decision.

As a campaigner for open local government in Bristol for 25 years, (I am a member of 'Independents for Bristol', an association which aims to mentor and assist independents to stand for the council) I find this lack of input to the decision by either council officers, councillors, or the public, appalling. A gentleman stood up and spoke about it at the last Mayors Question Time at City Hall, and he made a good speech but for some reason felt he had to make it into a bit of a joke subject - I've seen letters about this in the Bristol Post where people are being apologetic about the fact that they are raising it. Yet the issue feeds into the 2015 reduction in the parks operations, which the council admit they haven't even started working out the options for!

If  FOSAP members want to put to together a statement to read at the January cabinet, that might help - making it clear that FOSAP wants to be consulted about proposal R-PL-005 as it is related to the Public Toilets closure issue. A bunch of us could go to that cabinet?

All suggestions welcome.

Stella

 

Comment by Des Bowring on December 20, 2013 at 9:53

I'd love to help but I find that organising monthly bird walks is a 24/7 job and very stressful. Not only is there the pressure of trying see at least three species in order to satisfy Simon's insatiable appetite for rarities, but the health and safety issues are an ever-present headache, particularly in autumn and winter when there is often a leaf on the ground. 

I agree Stella would be the ideal person to take this forward.

 

Happy Christmas everyone!

 

Happy Christmas

Comment by Jo Corke on December 20, 2013 at 9:41

Hi Stella, thanks for this information on the toilets.  FoSAP is no more than a group of people who love the park and some of us, on a voluntary basis, take up particular issues. For example, I am one of two convenors of the wildlife group.

So I agree that it would be good if  'someone did something' about the Toilet Closure issue; will that someone be you?

Jo

Comment by Stella Perrett on December 18, 2013 at 9:11

Update on this - the council have told me that there is as yet no officer's report and they are still working through the options for proposal R-PL-005. So I suggest that FOSAP put their own options together and present them to the council -2015 is not that far away, so the earlier you do this the better!

Comment by Stella Perrett on December 17, 2013 at 17:22

17 December

I have asked the council to direct me to an officers report on budget proposal  R-PL-005 'Parks Operation - Grounds Maintenance. Reduce work specification in parks. Re-letting contract in 2015.' There must be some detail somewhere on what works they propose to reduce - for example will locking and unlocking the public loos in the parks remain in the contract?  Watch this space!

Comment by Fo SAP on December 2, 2013 at 19:24

From: Chris Hammond, Grounds Maintenance Contracts Manager, Parks Operations Team, Bristol City Council Parks & Estates

Currently the city council is running a constitution process over the proposed closure of public toilets at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/community-and-safety/toilets-run-council-are-proposed-shut.

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