More than 1,000 sign petition demanding public toilets in Portsmouth park

The petitioners in Kingston Rec. From left to right, John Cullen, 63, from Eastney, Rachael O'Connor, 46, from Fratton, Nikki Coles, 31, from Fratton with her daughter 20-month-old Darcy, Claire Loveridge, 37, from Fratton and Trevor Morgan, 67, from Fratton.
The petitioners in Kingston Rec. From left to right, John Cullen, 63, from Eastney, Rachael O'Connor, 46, from Fratton, Nikki Coles, 31, from Fratton with her daughter 20-month-old Darcy, Claire Loveridge, 37, from Fratton and Trevor Morgan, 67, from Fratton.
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THE pleas of more than 1,000 people could be met as councillors revealed they were looking into building toilet facilities for a popular Portsmouth park.

At Wednesday’s full council meeting a petition to reinstall toilets at Kingston Rec, off St Mary's Road, was met with encouragement by members of all parties with the head of environment confirming the project’s progress.

Since the site’s toilets were closed in 2013, park users have been left with a half-mile walk to the nearest facilities.

Fratton resident and mum-of-three, Nikki Coles, presented the petition that was signed by 1,050 people. Speaking at the meeting she explained that the lack of toilets was unacceptable following the site’s redevelopment. She said: ‘Since it re-opened in April footfall has increased. Over the summer the rec hosted two events that attracted thousands of people.

‘From this petition I have met lots of people; parents, children, grandparents, dog-walkers. It has been very well received.

‘I was told about a family who had to leave within five minutes because one of them needed the toilet. And there was a child with Down syndrome who had wet herself due to the lack of toilets. There are children using the bushes to relieve themselves.’

The Kingston Rec toilets were closed due to budget cuts. But councillors were also concerned about the site providing a place for drug taking and anti-social behaviour.

Mrs Coles added: ‘Why should the majority of people using the rec lose toilets because of the minority?’

In response the council’s head of environment, Cllr Dave Ashmore, said: ‘We know how annoying it is for people using Kingston Rec, that their children can get “caught short” and need the loo and the lack of toilets currently available in the immediate vicinity is a real issue.

‘We are particularly keen to explore the possibility of a combined retail kiosk and toilet unit, as the kiosk operator could then oversee the toilets and reduce the need for the council to have to find additional revenue funding to service them.

‘We are expecting a final set of costings back within the next two weeks and are  happy to update members once we have identified an appropriate design and location which provides easy access to electricity and water services.’

Mrs Coles was buoyed by the reaction of councillors. ‘I wasn’t expecting comments like that from the councillors,’ she said.

‘It was really, really positive. I’ve also had loads of lovely comments via social media.

‘I hope they keep to their word. If not I will have to keep putting pressure on them.’

The council has been quoted a price of £150,000 to install the toilets.