CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up their bid to get a toilet block reopened in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth City Council closed loos in Lower Drayton Lane, Drayton, as part of its decision to shut 12 of the 25 ones it managed.
Now a petition signed by 1,500 angry residents will go before a meeting of the full council tomorrow in the hope the decision will be reversed.
Councillors can either decide to dismiss the petition or recommend that another decision be made by the cabinet at a later date.
Lead campaigner Patrick Whittle will make his case that shutting the Drayton toilets has isolated pensioners and made walkers avoid the area.
He also believes the move has hit motorists coming off the motorway from Petersfield, as there isn’t a loo for them to stop off anywhere near Havant Road any more.
Mr Whittle said: ‘The comments that people have left on the petition say the closure has made it difficult for them to go out and they always used the loos in Lower Drayton Lane.
‘I hope the cabinet will decide in this one case that the plan doesn’t apply here.’
The closure comes after Kerry Fry, manager of Charlie’s Cafe, in Havant Road, was forced to put up a sign telling people that her toilets were for customers only after being inundated with requests for them.
As reported in The News, all the toilets the council earmarked for closure were shut at the end of last year, and sites in Highland Road, Bransbury Park and Milton Park were demolished.
But the council has made more loos available thanks to the introduction of a scheme where businesses offer their bathrooms to the public.
Figures on the council’s website show there are now 45 public toilets open – but Mr Whittle believes most of them are in tourist hotspots.
‘The council has now got a lot of extra toilets in Southsea,’ he said.
‘There is a great gap in the north of the city.
‘There are a lot of people up here that need access to a public toilet.’
Councillor Simon Bosher, who represents the Conservatives for Drayton and Farlington, said: ‘Once again, the Liberal Democrats have shafted Drayton and Farlington.
‘We have a significantly elderly population, for which public toilets can be lifeline.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the council, said the toilets could be saved if anyone wanted to come forward and run it.
‘If local people want to take it on and run it as a public loo, we will give it to them for nothing,’ he said.
‘I made that offer several months ago.’