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Conveniences should be a part of the community
Toilets are in the news a lot lately in the Winchester area. Last Saturday, the Hampshire Chronicle reported that Cllr Eileen Berry said the loos at St Maurice’s Covert in the town are a ‘disgrace’ and Winchester City Council has decided that it shouldn’t have to stump up the cost of paying for all of the public toilets across the District. They want the Parish Councils of New Alresford, Bishops Waltham, Denmead and Wickham to start contributing to the upkeep of their local toilets.
City Councillors say they don’t have the money to keep all of the public toilets open, and without the financial support of the Parish Councils, certain conveniences could shut down – and become rather inconvenient for anyone caught short.
The Parish Councillors feel they shouldn’t have to pay for the toilets, because their money is to be used for the benefit of the residents, not the tourists who they claim are the main users (Tourism is an area looked after by the City Council).
On this point I have to disagree. As a resident in Winchester, and a worker in Alresford, I quite often use the local public toilets. They are a convenience for all. If I’m out shopping on the High Street and need to go, or walking back to my car from the office without planning my loo schedule, a public toilet is the greatest possible convenience. Indeed, continuing my New Years Resolution to drink between 2 – 4 litres of water a day, it is a necessity to have the necessary facilities at close hand.
Local businesses are run in the main by local people. These businesses benefit from the tourism massively, and therefore isn’t it right that they should be contributing to attracting people to their own area? Local people, just like myself, still use the toilets. I’d happily claim the toilets in each district are a great benefit to the local area.
I understand the Parish Councillors point about it being a ‘double tax’ on the people, but I think there’s a deeper point to be made.
Local people should first and foremost be proud of their local area, and should do everything in their power to look after it for the benefit of all – residents and tourists. We’ve got to a point today where we are always trying to shift the workload to someone else or blaming someone else for not doing things.
Areas have lost their identity to the ‘Don’t care’ attitude, leaving places to be trashed and loose their sense of community. It’s a shame, but perhaps funding your own public toilet is the way forward to regaining that ‘togetherness’ we once had.
Now is the time for local residents to get together, form a committee, look after your public toilets using your own money from the Parish Council, and make it look pretty with lots of flowers and pictures. Furnish it with wooden seats and nice toilet paper – and make people proud of their local loo. I’d happily bet that people would then look after the toilets a lot better because it is ‘theirs’, not something just run by a council they don’t feel connected with.