More needs to be done to improve the bog standard number of public toilets available in Flintshire, it has been claimed.
Figures released earlier this year show that there are just four council operated loos across the area following the closure of eight public conveniences since 2000.
Flintshire Council has also transferred some facilities into the ownership of community groups in a bid to save cash.
The authority is now preparing to launch a consultation on its Local Toilets Strategy, which is a requirement under Welsh Government legislation.
The British Toilet Association regularly gathers data on the number of toilets available to the public.
Director Raymond Martin believes the council needs to do more to help people caught short, as well as those with certain medical conditions. He said:
“We have to do five things in life. We have to eat, sleep, breathe, drink and we have to go to the toilet.
The danger is that you will get people getting out of their cars in Flintshire and urinating at the side of the road because there are no public toilets.
They might also do it in the street or in doorways in town centres and we don’t want to go back to those days.
The reason that toilets are closing is because councils have had their funding reduced by the government and they have no legal obligation to maintain these facilities.
There are some authorities who we’ve been working with looking at alternative ideas, such as trying to get more shops to open their toilets up to the public.”
According to the association’s research, there is one public toilet for every 38,789 residents in Flintshire, compared to one for every 10,930 people on average in other areas of the UK.
The council’s consultation is aimed at analysing the location, access and facilities available at all public conveniences in Flintshire, along with how often they are used.
In a report Cllr Carolyn Thomas, the authority’s cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside, said it could result in the number of toilets it runs changing. She said:
“It must be determined whether additional or fewer sites balance the demand and need against the deteriorating budget position and the wider challenges being faced by the council.
“The final strategy and proposals will need to be sustainable, without significantly increasing the financial pressure on the council.
“It is intended that consultation is predominantly undertaken through an electronic online survey, but alternate methods will be available for those with special requirements or without access to internet services.”
Councillors will be invited to comment on the consultation process at an environment scrutiny committee meeting next Tuesday.
The finalised strategy will be presented to cabinet members in April 2019.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
Pictured above – Connah’s Quay public toilets which were removed in 2014 due to issues involving drug users.