Fling wide the stalls, open the toilet doors

Businesses are urged to open their toilets to everyone, not just customers
By Local Democracy Reporter Joe Talora

Stock image (Wikimedia/Flinga)
Stock image (Wikimedia/Flinga)

Businesses and shops in London are urged to open their bathrooms to everyone after more than nine out of ten Londoners reported there are not enough public toilets.

To coincide with World Toilet Day, the London Assembly’s health committee released a new report today detailing the struggles Londoners face looking for toilets while out.

Their survey found 91.3 per cent of respondents did not think there were enough public toilets, while 94 per cent said they had found it quite difficult or very difficult to find a toilet.

Toilet map Loocations, originally created to track toilets open during lockdown, lists only around a dozen public toilets in Waltham Forest, although its accuracy relies on user submissions.

Assembly Member Caroline Russell, chair of the health committee, said that the report demonstrates how “Londoners are being let down by a lack of loos”, which are “not just a convenience – they’re a necessity”.

Ms Russell said: “It is clear from [our] investigation that Londoners have grave concerns about the city’s public toilets being wiped out. The lack of toilets in London is a public inconvenience and closures are worsening the problem.

“It is simply not acceptable that people are purposely dehydrating themselves over concerns that they might not be able to find a loo when away from home. Some even feel they cannot leave the house at all.

“Our findings should serve as a wake-up call that having no place to go can have serious physical and mental health consequences.”

In 2011, a report found there were just 393 local authority-maintained public toilets in London, down from 486 in 2000. However, with no centralised data on public toilet provision in London, the current figure is unknown.

Across the UK, it is estimated that more than 1,700 public toilet facilities closed in the decade leading up to 2016.

In addition to calling on Sadiq Khan to work with businesses to get them to open their toilets to the general public and not just paying customers, the report also calls on TfL to provide a map of public toilets along the transport network on the TfL Go app.

The report argues the government should also step in by making it a statutory duty for local authorities to provide and maintain public toilets.

Caroline Russell said: “We need to see enhanced leadership and accountability at national, regional and local level to improve the chronic lack of decent public toilet provision in our city.”