Today’s guest blog comes from Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig.
Today is World Toilet Day, a United Nations initiative. It highlights that Sustainable Development Goal 6 – sanitation for all – is still essential when globally 4.2 billion people live without safely-managed sanitation.
Here in the UK we are able to take this for granted, but over the past decade we have seen a reduction in the number of council run toilet facilities. This BBC News article attempts to show the national picture of council run toilets.
In Bristol, as a result of decreasing funding in December 2017, we took the difficult decision to end funding for 14 public toilets across the city. Although we were able to continue with 9 toilets in our parks and we transferred the toilets on the downs to the downs committee and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust, we know that people we concerned about the impact it would have. Many older people and disabled people are particularly need access to toilets.
That’s why we asked the city and local business to join our community toilet scheme to replace, improve and expand our offer.
I am pleased that it has been a huge success. Today there are over 100 community toilets that are part of the scheme, 85% of which are accessible, and all toilets are open to members of the public without discrimination. It is considered one of the most successful schemes in the country by the British Toilet Association.
Not only have we got more toilets available for use, but many are open for longer than the public toilets were (including one open 24hrs a day), but because the premises are in use they are much better cared for than some of the locations which they replaced.
We are working to make sure the whole city has coverage, and there is a community toilet in 26 of the 34 wards of Bristol. We are focusing on finding additions to the scheme near to transport hubs and bus routes. The public toilet map shows opening times, types of facilities and location of toilets in Bristol and you can find toilets with adult changing facilities on the Changing Places website.
We also co-produced a paper brochure with Bristol Ageing Better because we know that some people don’t have access to the internet. For those that do, there is a smartphone app for finding the nearest toilet to you.
We are so grateful for the support of people that have joined the scheme and helped make Bristol a better place for people to enjoy. It has been a whole city response to what is a national problem. It shows how business, with the support of the council, can help during a time of reducing council footprint in the city.
To sign up for the Community Toilet Scheme or to find out more about what is involved, visit www.bristol.gov.uk/communitytoilets .