Haringey Council has now agreed to develop a toilets strategy for the borough.

This includes short-term practical improvements to public toilets as well as devising medium- to longer-term ways of guaranteeing better availability of, and access to, toilet facilities in Haringey for older people and people with disabilities, who are so often hard pressed to find a usable toilet.

While resources remain very tight, this is a big but important ask and results from a concerted campaign by Loos for Haringey, actively supported by Hornsey Pensioners Action Group [HPAG].

The work will be co-produced with local representatives and overseen by a steering group chaired by the lead cabinet member, Cllr Lucia das Neves.

Ham & High: Gordon Peters has been a long-time campaigner for access to public toiletsGordon Peters has been a long-time campaigner for access to public toilets (Image: HPAG)

For the first time there is an acknowledgement that what Age UK have called 'the loo leash' must be addressed - where one-in-five older people are fearful of going out far, or remain isolated at home, because there is no guarantee of a toilet where they wish to go.

In terms of local geography there are 'loo deserts', for instance, in the Archway and south and north Tottenham areas where public toilets are absent and the few existing public toilets are most often in disrepair.

These will now be monitored and improvements scheduled. Outside libraries and Wood Green shopping centre there are only three in the borough, hence it has been vital to include access to private and community facilities wherever possible.

Some commercial outlets are open and accepting of their publicly accessible toilets being readily available when needs must, but many are not willing and discourage non-customers.

Following approaches from Loos for Haringey, the NHS in north London based in both Whittington and North Middlesex Hospitals - and who are on the steering group - have agreed to produce a toilet access card, a bit like a Freedom Pass, for anyone who may be likely to have an urgent need for a toilet, which is a much wider population than those with specific diagnosed bladder and bowel conditions.

While not mandatory for shops, cafes or businesses, it should be an important confidence giver to people in need and also a demonstration of goodwill. Hopefully the neglect of toilets which has constrained many thousands, especially with the 'austerity' years of cuts, will end.