1,000 people join the fight to keep public toilet open

The toilets in Lower Drayton Lane
The toilets in Lower Drayton Lane
Hardway Green in Gosport. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells

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MORE than 1,000 residents have signed a petition against the closure of a public toilet in Portsmouth.

Campaigner Patrick Whittle has got 1,095 people to sign a document calling on the city council to reconsider its decision to close a block in Lower Drayton Lane.

It’s one of 12 toilets that have been closed by the local authority as it tries to make £200,000 worth of savings.

Mr Whittle, of Solent Road, Drayton, said he was bitterly disappointed when his local toilets were closed for good on November 1 – and decided action needed to be taken.

‘It’s the principle of having them closed,’ he said.

‘It means the elderly people around here can’t go out and the children find it very difficult.’

Though the council has introduced a community toilet scheme, which gets firms to open their facilities to the public, Mr Whittle said Drayton’s shops weren’t keen about signing up.

‘Some of them have put signs up saying their toilets are only for customer use,’ he said.

‘Some of the charity shops I have asked say you need to go through their stockroom to use the toilet and they can’t have customers doing that.

‘The Sunshine Inn in Farlington is up for sale and if that closes, there will be no toilets all the way along Havant Road anymore.’

Kerry Fry, manager of Charlie’s cafe, in Havant Road, said she’s had no choice but to put a customer sign up because she’s been ‘inundated’ with requests to use her toilet. ‘The council can’t just expect businesses to pick up the extra expense,’ she said.

‘We get inundated with people coming in to use our toilets.

‘There are a lot of taxi drivers that come up Havant Road and because we are one of the biggest cafes up here they want to use our toilet.

‘We’ve had to put a sign up because it’s become an added cost to the business.’

Meanwhile, The John Pounds Centre, in Portsea, which has signed up to the scheme, said demand was high.

Manager James Bollard said: ‘There’s been a steady flow of people. The toilet roll is going a bit quicker than normal and the budget is getting a bit tight on it.

‘But I don’t think things will get bad.’