Businesses help offset cuts by opening up loos

Lydia Lyons and Chris Everest outside ' 'Mumms Cafe, which has signed up to Portsmouth City Council's community toilet scheme.''''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132767-595)
Lydia Lyons and Chris Everest outside ' 'Mumms Cafe, which has signed up to Portsmouth City Council's community toilet scheme.''''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132767-595)
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BUSINESSES have pledged to let non-customers use their toilets to offset cuts made by Portsmouth City Council.

Twelve firms have signed up to the local authority’s community toilet scheme, which means their facilities aren’t just open to paying customers any more.

It comes after the council announced earlier in the year it was going to axe 12 of the 25 toilets it runs in order to make £200,000 worth of savings.

It’s hoped the initiative will help improve the number of visits companies get.

But critics say provisions should have already been put in place before cuts were made – and the scheme may not catch on unless people know exactly where to go.

A community toilet sign is being put up outside each building so people know which ones they can go to during opening hours.

Mumms Cafe, in Highland Road, Southsea, was one of the first to sign up to the scheme.

Manageress Helena Lucas said: ‘On the last Albert Road Day event, lots of people had trouble finding a loo.

‘We opened ours up to women and children, and it went well.

‘People spent money in here or left tips. We’ve always been relaxed about people using our loo if they need to. Joining the scheme goes with being part of the community.’

But Cllr John Ferrett, Labour group leader, said action should have been taken earlier, and thinks extra costs involved with putting in signs will raise questions about why the council cut loos in the first place.

‘It’s good that the council has at least taken some action to make active provisions because it was an absolute disgrace it closed public toilets down before putting any provision in place. But if you have to pay more in order to promote the scheme, then why can’t you keep the public toilets open?’

The other businesses that have signed up are; The John Pounds Centre, in Queen Street, Portsea; Wightlink’s car ferry terminal, in Gunwharf Road, Portsmouth; Eastney Community Centre, in Bransbury Park, Eastney; Greggs, Commercial Road; Debenhams, Commercial Road; The Trafalgar, Edinburgh Road; Milton Village Hall, in Milton Road, Milton; Fratton Community Centre, off Clive Road, Kingston; The Star and Garter, in Copnor Road, Copnor; The Golden Hind, in Copnor Road, Copnor and Portsmouth Disability Forum at Frank Sorrell Centre, in Prince Albert Road, Eastney.

Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘This scheme is a sensible way of providing facilities, with community-minded businesses and organisations, where people might need them.’

COUNCIL-RUN toilets at Castle Field, Southsea; Clarke’s Road, Kingston; College Park, Copnor; Lower Drayton Lane, Drayton; Paradise Street, Landport; South Parade Kiosk, Southsea and White Hart Road, Old Portsmouth will close by October 31.

Loos at Highland Road, Eastney; Bransbury Park, Eastney and Milton Park, Milton were closed for demolition on September 2.

Ones at Hilsea Lido, Hilsea, and Marsden Road, Paulsgrove, have already closed.

Locations of community toilets can be checked by searching ‘community toilet scheme’ at portsmouth.gov.uk

The council is encouraging more companies to join the scheme.

Enquiries should go to communitytoilets@portsmouthcc.gov.uk