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'Common sense' needed when Bucks' public loos re-open

Buckinghamshire Council closed all public toilets when lockdown started.

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell at 2:06pm 29th May 2020. 3-minute read.

'Common sense' needed when Bucks' public loos re-open

Buckinghamshire council bosses are looking to re-open public toilets around the county ‘as soon as they can’.

Since the lockdown was enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic back in March, the loos have been closed off to residents.

But despite lockdown gradually easing, some people are deciding not to go out because they don’t have access to the toilets.

That’s according to councillor Isobel Darby, who said:

“Quite a lot of the public are saying it’s all very well saying the park’s open but actually, I do need to use the loo.

“They can’t go to the park because they can’t use the facilities.

"We’ve got to give the public a little bit of ability to use their common sense otherwise we’re just never going to open anything.”

What is the council doing about safely re-opening all toilets?

Public toilets

Cllr Darby asked Cllr Clive Harriss, Buckinghamshire Council’s leisure boss, how the authority is working to get loos ready.

He said:

“We’re looking at stepping up the cleaning of the toilets so when people do need to use the facilities they are as clean as can possibly be.

“But we can’t send someone to clean up after every single visit so people will have to use their common sense and do what all our parents use to say and ‘go before you leave’

“It’s a flippant answer but until we are really on top of this it’s going to be very difficult.

“We’ve got to have these facilities open for people to some degree and at the same time, we will do as much as we can to bring back normality.”

What are the difficulties with re-opening public toilets?

Public toilets

Cllr Harriss said the designs of the loos made re-opening them very difficult.

Because there is more space in disabled toilets than standard toilet blocks, this may mean they can be opened first.

He said:

“The design of the loos in different areas is very difficult. We have the isolation within the disabled facilities so maybe some of those will be open in the very near future.

“As for the main arrangements it is very difficult to [socailly] distance within those.”

How could the toilets safely re-open?

After hearing councillor Harriss’ answer, Cllr Darby proposed one way of re-opening the loos.

She suggested putting signs on toilets doors telling people to wait outside and queue for the toilet to allow only one person in at a time.

A ‘really tricky situation’

Buckinghamshire Council leader Martin Tett added:

“There is a real hygiene issue with not having toilets open.

“It’s a really tricky situation, I think we should really try and re-open these toilets as soon as we can. But we need to do it in a way that is safe.”

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