Mike Hedges welcomes news that Local authorities expected to improve access to public toilets

Mike Hedges welcomes news that Local authorities expected to improve access to public toilets

All local authorities in Wales are now expected to improve the availability of toilet facilities in their communities.

Speaking after the announcement, Mike Hedges AM said… ‘I greatly welcome this announcement – I Chair the Cross Party Assembly Group on Older People and Ageing, and the issue of lack of public toilets is brought up again and again by groups representing older people. Isolation and Loneliness is a major issue affecting older people and when asked, older people often say that lack of public toilets is a significant reason why they do not go out.

Certainly, over the years the number of public toilets has declined, often for understandable reasons such as being the focal point for vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

This announcement is a step on the right direction to addressing these concerns of elderly members of our communities. I am sure that working proactively with local business and voluntary sector groups will see an increase of toilets available to the public.’

The move comes following concerns that local authorities have been closing public toilets, and that better use could be made of toilets within public buildings, such as libraries and sport centres.

A lack of accessible local toilets can limit people’s lives by stopping them going out, which can lead to isolation, anxiety and other health conditions. Certain groups of people are more likely to be impacted than others, with the elderly, people with certain health conditions and disabilities, carers and parents of young children most affected.

Under the Welsh Government’s Public Health (Wales) Act, local authorities now have one year to assess the needs of its community, including changing facilities for babies and Changing Places facilities for disabled persons, and put a strategy in place to ensure the public will have greater access to these facilities.

The expectation is that the strategy will go beyond the provision of traditional stand-alone public toilets, and look at new and creative solutions, including bringing toilets in public buildings into wider use and working with private businesses to make their facilities available to the public.