Camden’s public toilet closure plans blasted

Cllr Flick Rea expressed her outrage on behalf of those who will be left caught short

Cllr Flick Rea expressed her outrage on behalf of those who will be left caught short - Credit: Archant

A politician has blasted Camden’s proposals to close several public toilets, declaring: “There are certain bodily functions which cannot be carried out over the internet.”

Liberal Democrat Councillor Flick Rea made her impassioned statement at a full council meeting on Monday,in response to a cost-cutting drive designed to save the Town Hall £250,000.

Camden’s environment chief, Councillor Meric Apak, has suggested that public toilets in Pond Square in Highgate Village, West End Lane in West Hampstead and South End Green in Hampstead could all be shut down.

In addition, currently free-to-use loos in Camden Town could become “pay as you go” facilities, just like those in railway stations, and automated toilets in Queen’s Crescent may also face their final flush.

Cllr Rea, who represents Fortune Green, said it was no use the council simply blaming cuts from central government for the closures, as public conveniences began closing down under the previous Labour administrations.

She said: “Somebody has been after closing Camden’s public toilets for something like 12 years. Public toilets are a thing of the past, do you think? They’re Victorian?”

Addressing finance chief, Cllr Theo Blackwell, Cllr Rea asked if closing public conveniences was a “wheeze” to raise money because of the council’s recent proposal to fine people £100 for urinating in the street - so-called “wee fees”.

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She said: “You discuss the possibility of fining people for defecating in the street. What a wonderful income stream!

“I’m sorry, but the people of Camden will not take the closure of their public toilets calmly, and if you start selling off a listed building in West Hampstead and turning it into a nail bar, or a cocktail bar, I’m afraid your colleagues in West Hampstead will have a lot to be sorry about.”

In response, Cllr Phil Jones, head of planning, said that each ward would be given greater say in how to spend the money they are allocated, and so could have the option of using this cash for public toilets.

He said: “I don’t know if Fortune Green has had a meeting about using some of their money for local loos, but that’s certainly something that we could look at.”

The council has suggested trying to placate public anger over the proposed closures by creating a community toilet scheme, whereby private companies and shops would be paid to open up their doors to the public.