The first public toilets were introduced in 1852 and some of the finest surviving architectural examples date from this Victorian heyday. However, while the Public Health Act 1936 gives local authorities power to provide public toilets, it imposes no duty to do so, and this lack of compulsion, together with a perception of nuisance associated with them, has resulted in a steady decline in the provision of public toilets in recent years.

Going to the toilet is something everyone does, every day. However, what happens when you leave the house and you hear the call of nature? You can’t rush home every few hours, so you are left relying on public toilets. They are a vital part of our everyday lives and yet they’re often overlooked, neglected, and abandoned.                                           

What does the Government say?

The UK Government defines several needs for public toilets:

  1. Public toilets stop people from fouling the streets. The National Organisation of Residents’ Association (NORA) described people fouling the streets as “appalling, it is disgusting and if you are a resident affected by it, it ruins your life…”. This is something we can all agree with!
  2. For certain groups in society, public toilets are key in enabling them to leave the house and visit public spaces. Older people, disabled people, young children, tourists, and many other groups all rely on public toilets and a lack of them restricts some groups from visiting at all.

“Help the Aged’s paper “Nowhere to Go” highlights the social cost to older people of the decrease in public toilets: Twelve per cent. of older people (1.2 million) feel trapped in their own home, 13 per cent. of older people (1.26 million) do not go out more than once a week and about 100,000 never go out. Our evidence suggests that lack of public toilets is a significant contributory factor in the isolation of older people, and the situation will worsen as toilet provision continues to decline.”1

  1. Tourism is a direct benefit of providing adequate, and even pleasant public toilets. There are multiple articles scattered across the internet, indicating the nicest public toilets for use in the UK, and the ‘Loo of the Year’ award exists to encourage the provision of appropriate facilities.

“You cannot cost it simply on what the loo paper and bricks might end up costing, you have got to see it as part of a broader context of a neighbourhood that is supporting and enabling its members to take part and get out and about.”1

Who needs public toilets?

Public restrooms provide a port in a storm to a variety of different groups including pregnant women, disabled people, anxiety sufferers, young children and babies and many more. They’re a vital part of our everyday lives and yet we still look at them with distaste. In recent years, public toilets closing has become an issue in the country and has not improved their image. In order to change the outlook of public toilets, local councils need to focus on them.2

In addition to the above, many homeless people see public toilets as there only means of maintaining personal hygiene. For a lot of local councils, homelessness can be a real issue in public toilets, with many using them for drug taking and sleeping. However, that doesn’t mean that this group should be discounted as they’re still key users, and access to these provisions can be a factor in helping homeless people off the streets.

Many councils still take great pride in their public toilet provisions and recognise the benefits of having appropriate facilities for their communities, but the decline in public toilets is still high.

Why should we focus on public toilets?

Economic issues and the changing nature of the high street has driven many Local Authorities to close toilets.  Instead, there is either no provision, “comfort schemes” have been introduced, or there is an unstated reliance upon the private sector via coffee shops, pubs, and fast food restaurants.  

This really highlights the places where people rely on having facilities available, these include:

  • Any location which promotes itself as a place for tourists – the seaside, historic cities, National Parks. These places are all judged on their toilets.
  • A high street which is competing with a local shopping centre will find that a lack of public facilities will drive users away as they don’t wish to beg their way in to a local café or coffee shop
  • A park in an urban area, which may have a play area, a skate park or other feature which the Local Authority have installed, will then need the appropriate infrastructure around it to function at its best
  • Cemeteries and other places of remembrance, where people may gather, and dwell for periods of time

In many instances, we witness toilets being closed in these types of locations, only to be reopened, often at great expense, in the future.  Because of this, we think it is better to remodel a toilet, reduce the running costs and think of the future requirements, than to close and reopen later at greater cost.

How Healthmatic can help

At Healthmatic, we recognise the importance of public facilities for the community and the importance of keeping costs and stress levels low within local authorities and we want to support both. Take a look at some of our previous completed projects.

We will work with you to ensure that appropriate facilities are provided, as well as ensuring that they are maintained and managed in a cost-effective way that keeps anti-social behaviour headaches to a minimum. If you are concerned about the public toilets in your area, get in touch with us, or pass this article to your local council. We are always happy to help and provide more information.

References
1 Parliament Publications
2 Cleanlink
BTA Loos
Kingsfund
The Guardian


City of York Council were experiencing challenges with 9 public toilet facilities, including Coppergate, which is located close to the Fenwick Shopping Centre, right next to Clifford’s Mount, a very popular tourist destination. The toilets are also just a stone’s throw away from the Jorvic Centre – another busy York attraction.  

A vital provision for local residents and visitors alike and busy all year round the facilities were generally outdated, in poor condition and suffered from serious anti-social behaviour issues, which regularly made the local news. 

In 2014, City of York Council employed Healthmatic to overhaul the traditional toilets, installing modern equipment and completely refurbishing to modern standards. This included establishing a number of Direct Access Locations, decreasing the opportunities for anti-social behaviour and optimising the cleaning and maintenance regime.  

The final site refurbishment was completed in 2019 at Coppergate. The results of which have met with overwhelming approval of the public. Regular compliments are received commending both the facilities and the dedicated Healthmatic Team who service them. City of York Council and Healthmatic continue to work in close partnership to deliver a consistently high level of customer service to the residents and visitors of York.  

“Coppergate is one of the main toilets in York City Centre, it is located adjacent to one of the largest car parks in the City making this, alongside our Silver Street Toilets, one of the busiest toilets in York.

The toilets had been refurbished since they were built in the 70’s/80’s and we approached Healthmatic to look at refurbishing both Coppergate and Silver Street as they are our business partners for the Public Toilets in York.

We worked together to successfully receive money for a capital project to refurbish both facilities, Healthmatic agreed to carry out this work as close to cost as possible as the refurbishment would see an improvement to the facilities and enable their staff to deliver a far better experience for users of these going forward.

When the toilets were opened, the results far exceeded our expectations, the facilities were brought right up to date and our customer complaints disappeared overnight. The feedback from the public has been very complimentary and the Council feel the capital money has been spent well in improving both sets of toilets.”

Dave Meigh – Operations Manager, City of York Council

Interested in updating the public toilets in your local community?

Speak to us today!


Our number one priority is the health and well being of our employees and all users of our facilities. The current Coronavirus situation is affecting all of us in the UK and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so we want to ensure that we are providing you with the best advice possible.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Our facilities are being visited daily, for thorough cleaning and disinfecting as well as general maintenance. Our teams are dedicated to the upkeep of this level of care for as long as possible. We are aware, however, that public toilets are not mission critical and if there are any issues around the health and wellbeing of our staff or users, we will be in touch with our client to confirm any updates to the situation.

Public Toilets can form part of your public health response by providing handwash facilities.

Our facilities are regularly restocked with hand soap and toilet paper, so there will be no issues with using our facilities to wash your hands whilst you are out and about. We highly recommend using our facilities as often as possible to ensure good standards of hygiene are maintained, and to stop the spread of the virus wherever possible.

Charging and availability

Healthmatic do not control the price or opening times of the public toilets that we install and maintain. These are controlled by the local authority, transport hub or other that manages the toilet overall. For issues regarding charging or access, please contact the local authority responsible for the facility.

Helpline

Finally, if you weren’t already aware, we operate a 24/7 helpline so if you need any information about our facilities or need to report an issue, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01249823143.

We wish each and every person good health during this period and we look forward to seeing you at our facilities in the future.

Best,

The Healthmatic team.


Our number one priority is the health and well being of our employees and all users of our facilities. The current Coronavirus situation is affecting all of us in the UK and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so we want to ensure that we are providing you with the best advice possible.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Our facilities are being visited daily, for thorough cleaning and disinfecting as well as general maintenance. Our teams are dedicated to the upkeep of this level of care for as long as possible. We are aware, however, that public toilets are not mission critical and if there are any issues around the health and wellbeing of our staff or users, we will be in touch with our client to confirm any updates to the situation.

Public Toilets can form part of your public health response by providing handwash facilities.

Our facilities are regularly restocked with hand soap and toilet paper, so there will be no issues with using our facilities to wash your hands whilst you are out and about. We highly recommend using our facilities as often as possible to ensure good standards of hygiene are maintained, and to stop the spread of the virus wherever possible.

Charging and availability

Healthmatic do not control the price or opening times of the public toilets that we install and maintain. These are controlled by the local authority, transport hub or other that manages the toilet overall. For issues regarding charging or access, please contact the local authority responsible for the facility.

Helpline

Finally, if you weren’t already aware, we operate a 24/7 helpline so if you need any information about our facilities or need to report an issue, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01249823143.

We wish each and every person good health during this period and we look forward to seeing you at our facilities in the future.

Best,

The Healthmatic team.


Our number one priority is the health and well being of our employees and all users of our facilities. The current Coronavirus situation is affecting all of us in the UK and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so we want to ensure that we are providing you with the best advice possible.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Our facilities are being visited daily, for thorough cleaning and disinfecting as well as general maintenance. Our teams are dedicated to the upkeep of this level of care for as long as possible. We are aware, however, that public toilets are not mission critical and if there are any issues around the health and wellbeing of our staff or users, we will be in touch with our client to confirm any updates to the situation.

Public Toilets can form part of your public health response by providing handwash facilities.

Our facilities are regularly restocked with hand soap and toilet paper, so there will be no issues with using our facilities to wash your hands whilst you are out and about. We highly recommend using our facilities as often as possible to ensure good standards of hygiene are maintained, and to stop the spread of the virus wherever possible.

Charging and availability

Healthmatic do not control the price or opening times of the public toilets that we install and maintain. These are controlled by the local authority, transport hub or other that manages the toilet overall. For issues regarding charging or access, please contact the local authority responsible for the facility.

Helpline

Finally, if you weren’t already aware, we operate a 24/7 helpline so if you need any information about our facilities or need to report an issue, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01249823143.

We wish each and every person good health during this period and we look forward to seeing you at our facilities in the future.

Best,

The Healthmatic team.


Our number one priority is the health and well being of our employees and all users of our facilities. The current Coronavirus situation is affecting all of us in the UK and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so we want to ensure that we are providing you with the best advice possible.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Our facilities are being visited daily, for thorough cleaning and disinfecting as well as general maintenance. Our teams are dedicated to the upkeep of this level of care for as long as possible. We are aware, however, that public toilets are not mission critical and if there are any issues around the health and wellbeing of our staff or users, we will be in touch with our client to confirm any updates to the situation.

Public Toilets can form part of your public health response by providing handwash facilities.

Our facilities are regularly restocked with hand soap and toilet paper, so there will be no issues with using our facilities to wash your hands whilst you are out and about. We highly recommend using our facilities as often as possible to ensure good standards of hygiene are maintained, and to stop the spread of the virus wherever possible.

Charging and availability

Healthmatic do not control the price or opening times of the public toilets that we install and maintain. These are controlled by the local authority, transport hub or other that manages the toilet overall. For issues regarding charging or access, please contact the local authority responsible for the facility.

Helpline

Finally, if you weren’t already aware, we operate a 24/7 helpline so if you need any information about our facilities or need to report an issue, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01249823143.

We wish each and every person good health during this period and we look forward to seeing you at our facilities in the future.

Best,

The Healthmatic team.


Our number one priority is the health and well being of our employees and all users of our facilities. The current Coronavirus situation is affecting all of us in the UK and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so we want to ensure that we are providing you with the best advice possible.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Our facilities are being visited daily, for thorough cleaning and disinfecting as well as general maintenance. Our teams are dedicated to the upkeep of this level of care for as long as possible. We are aware, however, that public toilets are not mission critical and if there are any issues around the health and wellbeing of our staff or users, we will be in touch with our client to confirm any updates to the situation.

Public Toilets can form part of your public health response by providing handwash facilities.

Our facilities are regularly restocked with hand soap and toilet paper, so there will be no issues with using our facilities to wash your hands whilst you are out and about. We highly recommend using our facilities as often as possible to ensure good standards of hygiene are maintained, and to stop the spread of the virus wherever possible.

Charging and availability

Healthmatic do not control the price or opening times of the public toilets that we install and maintain. These are controlled by the local authority, transport hub or other that manages the toilet overall. For issues regarding charging or access, please contact the local authority responsible for the facility.

Helpline

Finally, if you weren’t already aware, we operate a 24/7 helpline so if you need any information about our facilities or need to report an issue, please don’t hesitate to call us on 01249823143.

We wish each and every person good health during this period and we look forward to seeing you at our facilities in the future.

Best,

The Healthmatic team.


It may not be high on everyone’s list, but the thing we’re always keen to hear about is the way the budget will affect public toilets! This year has seen some really exciting updates for the world of public loos. After years of cuts and austerity have left us with only one public loo per 15,000,000 people, and even less for disabled toilets. Read on to find out why we’re so pleased to hear about these updates.

Business Rates Break for public toilets

“Business rates public lavatories relief – The government will bring forward legislation as soon as possible in this session to provide mandatory 100% business rates relief for standalone public lavatories in England from April 2020.”

This is an exciting development, it will enable Councils to provide public toilets, without the burden of paying business rates. For many Councils, Rates represent up to 20% of the annual costs of operation. For you and me, that means more places to go, when we need to go!

Changing Places Fund

“Changing Places Fund – The government is determined to see greater provision of Changing Places toilet facilities in new and existing buildings. These facilities are designed to provide sufficient space and equipment for people who are not able to use the toilet independently. Following on from a consultation in 2019, the government will change building regulations guidance by the end of this year to mandate the provision of Changing Places toilets in new public buildings. The Budget also confirms that the government will launch a £30 million Changing Places Fund, working with the Changing Places Consortium and others to identify those sectors where we most need to accelerate the provision of such facilities in existing buildings.”

The battle for more ‘Changing Places’ facilities has been hard fought and finally has the backing of our Government. This is great news for inclusion as it means that more people will be able to head out and enjoy our towns, cities and countryside, with less concern for where they will find a public toilet.

As a company, we welcome the recognition of the importance of more public toilets and more accessible public toilets. We look forward to supporting many more councils, businesses and others in the building of these exciting new facilities.


Worrying about your Coronavirus hygiene? You’re not alone. We have now been living with Coronavirus for several weeks and most of us are still focused on ensuring we are stopping the spread. That means washing our hands, for 20 seconds, as often as possible, which can mean using public facilities. The question is, are there enough hand washing facilities available?

In 2018 there were 4,486 toilets run by major councils in the UK, down from 5,159 in 2010. When you consider there are 66.44 million people living in the UK, that equates to 15 million people per toilet! To encourage proper Coronavirus hygiene and prevent the spread, we should wash our hands for 20 seconds. That means each person in the UK would have to queue for 3.5 days to wash their hands once.

Healthmatic public toilets - coronavirus

This is obviously an extreme statistic as we can wash our hands at home and at work. However, outbreaks like the Coronavirus could become more prevalent in the future. Keeping our hands clean is a key way to keep the germs at bay at all times. Is your local toilet ready for an onslaught of 15 million people washing their hands?

Increase Coronavirus hygiene

In all seriousness, we need to work together to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus and keep everyone in our communities safe. We want to work with all local councils in the UK to ensure this happens in all public facilities and you can help too. This can mean everything from checking on your elderly neighbour, to sharing your hand sanitiser with someone on the bus, but most importantly, it means washing your hands regularly, especially when you’re out and about.

In the meantime, Healthmatic have got plenty of loo roll and handwash available, so our toilets won’t be running out any time soon. Looking to improve the number of toilets in your area? Speak to us today.


London Loo Codes is a project to collect toilet codes from across the city.

Moeed Majeed was 19 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and now he has a stoma bag. Since then he has found it very hard to find accessible toilets in London.

The project London Loo Codes wants to change this by collecting the codes from business across the city that charge for toilet use.

Caroline Russell, Green Party member on the London Assembly, has also bid for £18m in the mayor’s budget to be invested in free toilets.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-51583798/public-toilets-should-you-be-able-to-pee-for-free

You can find more information about the London Loo Codes project here: twitter.com/londonloocodes. This project is vital for those suffering with any kind of disability that requires easy access to a toilet provision, but particularly those with a ‘hidden disability’ that sometimes struggle to access disabled toilets.

If you’re interested in finding out more about public toilets in the UK, visit our list of projects completed.