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Toilet troubles

 
Created on 16/04/2019 @ 09:13
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A report that is due to highlight the inadequate toilet facilities across Powys has enraged Welshpool Town Council’s Town Clerk, Robert Robinson.

The report will be presented to Powys County Council (PCC) tomorrow (Wednesday) following a three-month consultation and it is expected to show that there are not enough publicly accessible toilets in Powys when its 4.6 million annual visitors are taken into consideration.

It particularly focuses on a lack of baby changing facilities provided in a number of towns with Welshpool being named as one that is lacking.

But Mr Robinson has jumped on the report to question its credibility after the Town Council adopted the public toilets from PCC a number of years ago and developed its facilities.

“Welshpool has baby changing facilities at all of our toilets including in both male and female toilets in Berriew Street and a baby changing room separate at Church Street,” said Mr Robinson. “If the report cannot get this right it is of no value.”

Part 8 of the Public Health Wales Act, which came into force on May 2018, expects each county council in Wales to prepare and publish a local toilets strategy for its area.

The Economy, Residents, Communities and Governance Scrutiny Committee will tomorrow listen to a report by Dr Greg Thomas, Events/Civil Contingencies project officer on the Toilets Strategy.

Dr Thomas criticises how toilet need is calculated, by pointing out that Powys attracts 4.6 million visitors a year especially during the summer months.

Dr Thomas said: “The relevant population in an area when calculating toilet need should include commuters, tourists, visitors, as well as residents, however this data as a whole is unavailable for Powys.”

On the research the study has found, Dr Thomas, added: “There are publicly accessible toilet facilities available throughout the county, with at least one facility in each of the main towns.

“Taking the BTA (British Toilet Association) recommendations there is a sufficient number of standard accessible toilets available within each locality of Powys.”

“Although towns are well catered for, a clear gap in publicly accessible toilet provision, can be seen in more rural areas, and along the vast road network in Powys.”

He then goes on to add his now misplaced comment of Welshpool having no baby changing facilities: “A lack of baby changing facilities in Powys with no such facilities being found in the Welshpool, Montgomery, Newtown, Hay and Talgarth, Llanidloes or Machynlleth.

“Furthermore, in Llanfair Caereinion and Ystradgynlais, baby changing facilities are only available within female toilets.”

Dr Thomas added: “Users don’t mind paying should the facility be well maintained, however due to people often not carrying the correct change, it has been suggested that a donation box might be a more suitable way of collecting payment.”

Dr Thomas concludes by adding: “It is evident that provision of publicly accessible toilets is a significant concern for both residents and visitors for Powys.”

PCC currently owns and maintains only two public conveniences in the whole county. These are at the Brecon and Ystradgynlais Transport Interchanges.

In recent years a total of 56 public conveniences have been transferred to other organisations.

The strategy needs to come in to force in June 2019 and the data will be given to Welsh Government who to be put online.

Feedback from 127 people who have taken part in the consultation so far is:

·      78% of respondents hadn’t paid to use a public toilet.

·      22% were charged

·      54% of people found it difficult to find a toilet when visiting another town

·      72% feel more commercial outlets should offer customer toilets

·      81% would use a mobile app to find a toilet

Initial reporting by Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
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