Don’t let parishes get ‘caught short’ over public toilets

Don’t let parishes get ‘caught short’ over public toilets

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) supports calls from parish and town councils for the government to reconsider proposals for exempting these councils for paying business rates on the important neighbourhood matter of public toilets.

The government under its own laws on the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) dismissed claims by the parish sector that local (parish and town) councils should not have to pay business rates on public toilets. At a time when thousands of these important public conveniences are being closed down up and down the country it is important to safeguard their future for the well being of communities.

So any unnecessary and bureaucratic costs placed on parish and town councils to maintain these vital communities facilities is going to act as disincentive to own and maintain them.

Public toilets are vital to many older and disabled people, enabling them to get out and about and to access essential services. Worrying about being caught short or facing the indignity of having an accident in public can have a devastating impact on people in later life, resulting in many being stuck at home and cut off from the rest of society. Furthermore the decline in publicly accessible toilets can lead to a drop in high street tourism.

Cranleigh Parish Council in Surrey sent a proposal to the government via the Sustainable Communities Act to give an exemption to parishes to paying business rates on public toilets. The government has turned down this proposal, so NALC via its role within this act is re-submitting the proposal with the weight of the organisation and the parish sector backing it.

Cllr Derek Liddell, chairman of the NALC SCA Board, said: “We were delighted to be able to send this proposal back to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). NALC and the parish sector feel it is vital to keep public toilets open to maintain high standards of public health and hygiene. Also they’re important for people with certain medical conditions, for older people, disabled people, pregnant women and families with kids. So the government needs to act now to help local councils keep these all-important facilities open.”

Read more on the Sustainable Communities Act

Media Watch | 24
Council of the Week: Southbourne Parish Council