Sunday, 2 November 2008

London's Disappearing Toilets
Questions have recentlly been raised in Parliament regarding the lack of provision of Public Lavatories .This is not a new phenomenon, but part of a trend of disappearing public facilities throughout the country.
It is in London, the capital of the country, and the city with the greatest concentration of tourists, where this is most acutely felt. For years, ever since the privatisation boom of the Eighties, Londoners have seen a fast shrinking of the number of publicly-run toilets.
Even in a busy tourist hotspot like Camden Town there is very little provision of public lavatories. Every weekend around two million visitors descend on this part of North London , principally in order to shop in one of the colourful markets which are based there. There are free public toilets near the Underground Station, but these close at around six o'clock. In the evening, thousands more people flock there to visit pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants. As the toilets are closed by the time these establishments close, it is not uncommon to see people urinating in doorways of shops and alleyways. Such a state of affairs is clearly unsatisfactory. Further up the road, other public toilets have been sold off altogether.
In many parts of London, the premises which once housed toilets are now haidressers' salons, estate agents' offices, or other commercial premises---but none of them are in use as lavatories. Some of the French-made unmanned slot-machine operated 24-hour toilets have made an appearance in a few spots, but they are not universally liked...Horror stories abound of their doors opening while still occupied, and there are some which seem to be frequently out of order.
In many cases, the only course of action left to someone who is on the lookout for a lavatory is to go into a pub, and use the facilities in there ; the only problem is that most pubs will not allow you to use their toilets unless you are a paying customer...This means that you are first obliged to buy a drink (thereby consuming more liquid), and then use the toilet---thereby compounding the problem ....

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