Row over Marylebone public loo closure
PUBLISHED: 12:29 25 August 2017
An ex-councillor has slammed Westminster Council for ignoring basic services after the closure of public loos near a busy market.
The toilets – at the junction of Church and Salisbury Streets in Marylebone and often used by market traders – are the focus of a campaign calling on Westminster to reopen the facilities organised by ex-London Assembly member Murad Qureshi.
“The council have completely mismanaged this and let the state of the toilets decline over a number of years so they have grounds to close them.
“These are facilities people have grown accustomed to. They would never let this happen to West End loos,” Mr Qureshi, who lives in nearby Bell Street, said.
Neighbours in a petition opposed to the closure describe the facilities outside The Traders Inn as “an indispensable part of the market for local people, visitors and market traders”.
But in a letter from Alan Rhind, head of property, campaigners were told the measure was brought in to tackle anti-social behaviour and the toilet block would be put to a different use with alternative loos provided in a regeneration of Church Street.
“The plans for new toilets have not been forthcoming. Really Westminster needs to provide the basic services you would expect from a council, including loos,” Mr Qureshi said.
Public toilets have been around for about 150 years although cash-strapped councils are not legally obliged to maintain facilities.
Raymond Martin from the British Toilet Association estimated the UK has seen 60 per cent of public conveniences disappear over the past decade.
He warned not being able to go can lead to poisons building up in the body potentially causing illnesses such as bladder infections and irritable bowel syndrome. He added closures can force people to go in the street.
“There’s no legal obligation for councils to provide loos, but there is a moral one,” Mr Martin said.
He urged councils to start charging to help cover costs and avoid more closures.
A council spokeswoman said: “Access to public facilities is something we take very seriously. The male and female toilets have been closed since 2015, due to an escalation in anti-social behaviour, drug using and prostitution. A code has been supplied to traders for use of the disabled toilet.”