More thought needed if this is the future of our services

Share this article
That's the way to do it

RICK JACKSON: Girl power rules – at the age of two

Have your say

It is refreshing to see so many businesses willing to spend a penny to help others do exactly that.

For let’s not kid ourselves, the owners of the 12 premises which have signed up for Portsmouth’s community toilet scheme will have to bear some extra costs – even if it is only additional cleaning products.

They are also, potentially, opening themselves up to attracting some of the undesirable characters you often find hanging around public toilets.

But let’s be positive and hope their public spiritedness will give them some extra revenue.

They have stepped in after the city council’s highly controversial decision earlier this year to shut 12 of the 25 loos it runs to save £200,000.

They range from cafés to pubs, village halls to community centres and we applaud the community spirit of their owners.

Perhaps they will be the first of many, should the scheme be a success.

As long as the council provides adequate signs telling us where these toilets are – not just sticking signs on the front of the building – we give this scheme a cautious welcome.

For at the very least it means that relief will be at hand for anyone caught short and the last thing we would want is a child or an older person left in discomfort.

However, we have to ask ourselves if this really is the way forward for a city which doubles as a seaside resort and major tourist attraction to boot? What sort of impression of Portsmouth will visitors take away and spread far and wide if their abiding memory of the city is one where they could not find a public convenience when they wanted one?

And, as we have argued before, this scheme is a classic case of shutting the cubicle door after the horse has bolted.

Surely it would have been far more prescient of the council to have had this scheme in place long before it announced half its loos would be padlocked.

If this is a sign of things to come, with more council services taken over by the private or voluntary sectors, we can only hope they are given more forethought.