Community toilet scheme rejected by Welwyn Hatfield councillors

PUBLISHED: 16:14 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:14 30 January 2019

Welwyn Hatfield councillors decided against setting up a community toilet scheme. Picture: Danny Loo

Welwyn Hatfield councillors decided against setting up a community toilet scheme. Picture: Danny Loo

Archant

A community toilet scheme will not be going ahead in Welwyn Hatfield, councillors decided at a meeting last night.

The scheme, which is already in place in Hertsmere and East Herts areas, involves councils paying businesses a fee to make their loos available to the public free-of-charge and with no obligation to buy anything.

The idea was discussed at Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting last night, January 29.

It was put on the agenda after a councillor raised concerns about the lack of toilets for customers in a retail food business that has eat-in facilities in two local shopping parades.

The councillor pointed out a need for toilet provision, particularly in these parades, for vulnerable groups such an older people, pregnant women and the disabled.

But the council highlighted that it was under no legal obligation to provide toilets and neither is the food business.

Nonetheless, it looked into the provision of a community toilet scheme as an alternative way of meeting people’s needs.

The report to the committee also noted: “It has been found that investment in good toilet provision can increase retail turnover, tourist numbers and economic growth.

“A community toilet scheme may therefore be beneficial to both business and residential customers.”

One business already opening its doors to people who need to spend a penny is The White Hart in Welwyn, where the scheme is operated by the parish council.

But following discussions at the meeting, borough councillors decided not to pursue the idea.

A council spokeswoman said: “It was not approved to go forward.

“There has not been demand from the public for such a scheme and at this time there is no budget allocated to support it.

“Members didn’t feel there was sufficient need identified to pursue it further.”

If the scheme had been introduced across Welwyn Hatfield, businesses would have been paid a small annual fee to open their toilets for public use.

This fee is dependent on the facilities offered under the scheme per organisation.

For example a single unisex toilet would attract the smallest fee.

Separate male and female toilets, a disabled toilet and baby changing would attract the larger fees.

Participating businesses would have displayed a CTS sticker in their window and there would also have been a street sign.

The fee would have covered any extra cleaning costs incurred by increased footfall.

In Hertsmere an annual budget of about £15,000 is currently allocated towards the ongoing delivery of an existing scheme.

Both Hertsmere and East Herts pay fees on a sliding scale up to £1,000 per business.

Facilities would also have been inspected before becoming part of a scheme and subject to regular, unannounced inspection to ensure they meet the contractual standards, and customer expectations.

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