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Public respond to toilet charges

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-12-27-08THE ANNOUNCEMENT of a pay-to-use trial in one of Aberystwyth’s public toilets was recently given the go ahead and if proven successful, it could very well be rolled out in the council’s other public conveniences in Ceredigion. But what do the people of Aberystwyth have to say on this decision?

In the October 28 edition of The Herald, we reported on the plans that Ceredigion County Council have made regarding a six to 12 month trial fee that will commence at the Park Avenue public toilets on Thursday (Nov 10).

The idea being that the public, who use the award-winning conveniences, will be required to pay 20p on entry through a ‘paddlegate’ system. From this, Ceredigion County Council will seek to gain additional funds in order to maintain the high standards of these conveniences.

The disabled toilet users will still be able to access the facilities free of charge by using the Radar key as part of the National Key Scheme (NKS), which offers disabled people independent access to locked toilets across the country.

Cllr Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, recently said of the plans: “When the council has asked the public for ideas about how best to manage the severe funding cuts we are subject to, charging for entry to toilets has been a regular suggestion. Many local authorities now charge a small fee for the use of their conveniences.

“Ceredigion has won numerous awards for the high standard of our toilets and the introduction of a small fee at this location, on a trial basis, is one idea for helping the council to maintain the current level of service across the county.”

Additionally, Raymond Martin, Managing Director of the British Toilet Association, has also recently stated: “Across and throughout the UK, the levels of toilet and facilities provision and, more importantly, management vary greatly.

“It is only through the correct supervision and management of goods and services that we see beacon councils like Ceredigion setting the standards of provision that many fail to achieve.

“Close attention to details and to the user needs and expectations make it a pleasure to visit and enjoy the facilities provided in such locations.”

With the announcement turning heads, it is the community that will feel the difference. So this week, The Herald decided to hit the streets and ask members of the public what they think about the decision and how they feel it will benefit the community.

John, who lives in Aberystwyth, told The Herald: “I have no problem paying 20p per use if the standard of the facilities was going to increase. But from what I can see, it will just be more of the same for a price.

“It is supposed to be award-winning but I have never thought it to be that clean, at least in the men’s side.”

The Herald also spoke to another Aberystwyth resident who voiced her concerns about the decision: “As a mother that uses these toilets on a regular basis, I can see it being an issue when getting the pram past paddle gates.

“There isn’t much room to manoeuvre there at the moment so I’m very concerned about the plans, to say the least.”

In addition, Laura, who has lived in Aberystwyth for six years, expressed her thoughts to The Herald: “It seems odd to me that the council can think they will raise money from this when they have to make alterations to the building in order to allow access gates to be put in.

“They will also need to maintain these gates for as long as they are in use and repair the gates when they inevitably get damaged or vandalised.”

Laura then added: “Why are we paying our council tax if they can’t afford to keep our public toilets free?”

With concerns for local businesses, Sam from Aberystwyth explained to The Herald: “Businesses are having enough problems as it is with high costs and lack of footfall because there is nowhere to park in town.”

Sam then went on to say: “It is a small price to pay for using the toilets, but it is just another obstacle for ordinary people like me.”

Meanwhile, Heather Jones from Aberystwyth told The Herald about she feels about the plans and what it would mean to the community: “I, personally, think that the plan is good idea but only if they make sure the toilets are kept spotless from here on out. With increased revenue, I think that the facilities can be better looked after.”

Heather then went on to tell The Herald: “I have spoken to a few people about this myself and they all feel that at least this way, the plan will help to guarantee the cleanliness of the toilet facilities and will give it the care that it needs.”

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Dayne Stone

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