York has earmarked £70,000 to refurbish two public toilets.
But retailers say don’t spend that much – let us provide the loos instead.
City of York Council is proposing to spend the money on the toilets in the Coppergate Centre and on Silver Street.
The Coppergate loos in particular require major work, the authority says.
Remodelling the loos
The Coppergate loos require “remodelling due to the existing layout and low prospects of surveillance attracting antisocial behaviour,” says a council report.
“The scheme would fund remodelling to reduce these problems and improve the reliability for legitimate users.”
At Silver Street, last refurbished in 2012, the money would fund “new low maintenance units with a larger flush capacity”, new urinals and redecoration.
A spokesman for the council said: “The work will be managed by Healthmatic, our toilet management contractor, who will be investing their money and time in the sites as well.”
But the York Retail Forum is calling on the council to forget about refurbishing their loos.
Instead they suggest that York shops could allow the public to use their toilets for free. In return they could get some public money towards their maintenance.
“Retailers with existing provision would not be looking for huge sums – the £70k set aside for these unnecessary and costly upgrades could probably get the scheme up and running for a year,” said Phil Pinder, chair of the retail forum.
Doubling the budget as the public toilets are taken out of action could bring hotels and restaurants on board, he said.
And that could see the provision of public toilets extend into the evening.
Success in Sheffield
A similar scheme has proved successful in Sheffield. The city’s Business Improvement District (BID) has backed the scheme and paid for maps to be printed guiding people to the shops taking part.
“Our shops already have longer opening times than our public toilets,” Phil said.
“A scheme like they have in Sheffield could only be a benefit for those shopping and visiting in York.”
In this way, the council would no longer have to pay for the provision and maintenance of toilet facilities.
So the scheme could “save a lot of public money. And provide free toilets to the public. What is not to love?”