New community loos could be introduced
COMMUNITY toilets look set to be introduced in Exeter city centre.
For more than a year city councillors and officers have been investigating how such schemes – where businesses allow members of the public to use their toilets – operate in other cities.
In particular they have been looking how the scheme works in Oxford and believe its model could be adapted in Exeter.
Members of Exeter's scrutiny community committee have voted to explore the potential of such a scheme in the city centre and, if successful, extend it to other areas, such as Pinhoe, where there are no public toilets.
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Businesses would volunteer to join the scheme and would display a notice saying they were part of it. There would be no cost to the council.
However, some have expressed doubts about the scheme. Pinhoe ward councillor Moira Macdonald said: "It's a lovely thought but I don't think it has get legs in Pinhoe – we don't have a cafe for example so I think there are limitations regarding Pinhoe specifically.
"We do need toilets however, and I think we could develop something near the station car park so that it would be of benefit for those waiting for a train."
Martyn Rogers, director of Age UK Exeter, also has reservations about the scheme.
He said: "Any schemes that complement our current provision should be looked at and I can see that it could work in the city centre where there are a number of cafes and restaurants, but because of the number of department stores community toilets may not be so badly needed.
"In the outlying areas, where there are no such establishments there may well be a need for further investment in public loos."
Andrew McNeilly, manager of the Guildhall Shopping centre, questioned why the scheme was being launched in the city centre. He said: "We have stores in the city centre, like Marks & Spencer and Dingles, who do it anyway because they have coffee shops and provide food.
"I can't see it being successful in the city centre – but wouldn't it be better in the areas like Heavitree and Pinhoe where there is not so much provision?
"Also are shops going to want to spend a lot of money making their facilities compliant with all the regulations for customers to be able to use them?
"I think my tenants in the Guildhall would be unlikely to adopt the scheme as they already pay for the provision of toilets in the centre."
Wayne Pearce, Princesshay Centre Director, said: "Princesshay already provides high quality public toilets for its visitors in Catherine Square.
"Our restaurants and cafes also have toilets for their customers. We recognise the importance of this for shoppers and would support the principle of improved provision."