Glasgow councillors refuse to drop calls for more public toilets

Glasgow councillors have refused to drop calls for more public toilets in the city after a review claimed extra facilities were “unnecessary”.

Campaigners have been calling for more public toilets in Glasgow.

They want the issue to be kept “on the agenda” despite council officers ruling there are “considerable” public facilities within Glasgow.

Their request comes after the campaigner behind a petition calling for toilets, which collected over 1300 signatures, said the findings of a council review had been “disappointing in the extreme”.

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In a response to the report, Patricia Fort told councillors that the review avoided taking “the action which is very much needed to bring our city up to a decent standard”.

She added the public toilets page on the council website — which was updated as part of the review — is “far from accurate” and should have already been updated regularly.

Her petition had called for extra ‘free at the point of use’ toilets in the city’s parks and public space.

A council officer told the city’s environment committee that “while we disagree with the allegations of the petition that there are insufficient public toilets in Glasgow, we do acknowledge that more could have been done to raise awareness of how many of these important public facilities there actually are”.

He said the council had “taken real action to address the concerns raised”. Action taken include updating the council’s website to show around 60 public toilets, submitting the list of toilets to a separate website — loocations.com — and putting new signs in some parks.

The officer said: “It was pretty clear that a number of facilities were actually not listed on the website and the problem with that really was that it gave a misleading impression that there were very few public toilets in Glasgow.”

A consultation with businesses on Sauchiehall Street in 2016 found they were unwilling to support a ‘community toilet scheme’, where people, including non-paying customers, can use the facilities at participating shops, cafes or pubs.

Cllr Eva Murray said: “I understand at the time there was no appetite for it. I’m just wondering if that has ever been attempted to be revisited.

“I think it is disappointing that it has been shelved after just one trial in one part of the city if it hasn’t been revisited.”

The council officer said he could “certainly have a look” at another community scheme. He added some of the businesses in the original consultation had fears over the “potential for anti-social behaviour”.

However, he said: “Many of the businesses that did respond did make the point that were somebody to come in and explain to the staff that they’ve maybe got a medical issue, or there’s some reason why they need to use a public toilet, in those types of incidents, the business operators did say they would allow people to use the public toilets.”

Cllr Kyle Thornton added that Sauchiehall Street is a “very unique street”. “If you are talking about people wanting to use parks and open spaces versus people on a night out, I can understand businesses’ reluctance to open up venues to non-patrons, particularly in the evening.”

He asked the council to consider another pilot scheme in an area with “community demand”.

Cllr Jill Brown said the council website linked to toilets in buildings that are closed, including the People’s Palace, Scotland Street School Museum and St Mungo’s Museum. The council officer said he would “double check” these.

Cllr Murray added: “I don’t think we can just note this, I think there is still a lot of information for us to get and we’ve not received 100% answers.

“I’m not expecting any officer to have 100% of the detail at this committee meeting, but I would ask that we don’t just note this. That we do carry it on to allow us to get further information.”