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Prime Minister promises to do more to halt decline of public toilets

17 August 2015

The BCC has welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to ‘look again’ at exempting public toilets from business rates, after public protests about the declining facilities.

Raymond Martin of the British Toilet Association (BTA) said: "We have lost around 50 per cent of our toilets in the past 10 years and we estimate there are only 6,000 or so left."

Town halls are not legally obliged to provide lavatories, so they are often one of the first targets when it comes to cuts.

Public toilets have ­traditionally been liable for taxes, just like "non-domestic" buildings such as shops and offices. Running them costs ­local authorities more than £100million a year while earning back a meagre £4.5million from user charges, according to Government estimates.

In the light of public anger about the closures, the Prime Minister said it was right that the government should look into this issue, and hinted that business tax exemption for public toilets might be one possible solution. This would save councils tens of thousand of pounds a year.

The campaign hit the headlines on 2nd August with a full page in The Sunday Mirror, who called it a ‘scandal’ that so many public loos were being lost.

The Mirror story highlighted the fury of the residents of Pangbourne in West Berkshire, who are fighting to preserve their village toilet. They have already gathered a 1,000 strong Facebook petition, and have taken part in a highly visible protest outside the threatened facility.

Source: Sunday Mirror