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THE owner of an art centre in Portsmouth has called for more public toilets to be built.

Mark Lewis, owner and founder of The Lodge Arts Centre and Park Cafe, in Victoria Park, is fed up with the public using his toilet.

The 45-year-old has been in Victoria Park for 13 years.

People in the park have been using his facilities to spend a penny since nearby public toilets were closed.

To convince Portsmouth City Council to build a new public toilet in the park, Mr Lewis went to the last full council meeting and handed in a petition with more than 1,000 signatures.

He said: ‘When Victoria Swimming Pool got knocked down five years ago, the public toilets went with it.

‘Since then, my art centre has had the burden of providing toilets for the public.

‘A single toilet is insufficient to cater the public need.

‘People use the toilet at the lodge because there are no public toilets to use instead.

‘It should not be used to make up for the deficiency in public toilets.

‘But we do not like turning people away.’

Public toilets are available at the entrance to Guildhall Square but Mark thinks more signs are needed and their opening hours improved.

He added: ‘The opening times of the Guildhall toilets are not seasonal.

‘Therefore, from Sundays until Thursdays they shut at five when people are still roaming the park at 9pm.’

Mark has made clear signs throughout the park showing where the nearest public toilets are.

This initiative has been recognised by the council which agrees that more signs are needed.

A statement from the council said: ‘The council recognised more signposts are needed to direct the public to other toilets in the area.

‘It is looking at providing more signage but also talking to other providers in the area to see if they will be happy for the toilet to use it.

‘One of those possibilities is the new Blade building which will be a part of the University of Portsmouth.’

The council is looking for alternatives to public toilets after two have been closed with another nine due to shut.

As previously reported in The News, the closures will save the council £200,000 as it struggles to keep costs down.