Local Toilet Strategy
To scrutinise the latest policy development.
David Jones presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cabinet Member Sara Burch.
There is no reference to Stoma-friendly accessible toilets – can that be included in the action plan e.g. signage on doors?
We aren’t sure in the moment what adjustments need to be made but we are committed to ensuring all of our toilets are accessible to all, so will look into this matter. Other departments will be aware (e.g. Landlords Services); the requisite information from the Councillor would be welcome. As part of the action plan, we will provide proper signage.
The listings of available toilets is out of date e.g. the Baker Street Library in Abergavenny and the museum in Priory Street, Monmouth, both of which have closed. And there is no mention of the opening times of toilets – this would be very useful.
There is a link at the end of the strategy that should give this information, but we take the point that the list needs to be updated. The link isn’t working though, which we will address.
There is no assessment of where there are baby changing facilities and whether they are in both female and male toilets – this is not addressed in the Integrated Impact Assessment.
These facilities are mapped in the source which the link accesses, mentioned above, but it will be reviewed with Data Map Wales this year, to give a clearer picture of what the facilities are, as well as where. Baby changing for both sexes should be available as it’s a Welsh Government requirement, but we will double-check.
Changing Spaces provision will be ‘considered’ – this is too weak a word, given our ambition and obligation to improve our facilities. Can something stronger be written?
Yes, this could be strengthened.
The survey says that 67% consider disabled provision to be inadequate. What will be done to address that – there is nothing in the strategy?
Access to disabled toilets can be a difficult area because getting to British Standards might cause the closure of some, as the dimensions might not be compliant. Landlords Services could advise better on that, but yes, the survey did show two-thirds felt they are inadequate. We mentioned Changing Spaces but any other disabled person could access those.
Any disaggregation in the survey between men and women or other groups about their satisfaction with the facilities would be very useful.
Welsh Government guidance was followed at the time as to what was in the survey, but we could potentially revisit user satisfaction, taking this point on board.
There is mention of considering making some toilets gender-neutral but this is not addressed in the IIA when considering impacts on minorities e.g. those seeking gender reassignment, etc.
Furthermore, there is a concern that if all toilets were made gender neutral there are concerns relating to lone females in locations like car parks – if considered, a full public consultation would be needed. Also, there are resource implications in providing 3 separate entrances.
Yes, this can be included for consideration, going forward.
It would be good to explore where there are gaps e.g. there is no public toilet in Skenfrith, where there are many visitors in the summer. How are we addressing such instances?
Due to the cost involved there probably won’t be any new toilet blocks installed – recurring costs e.g. drainage, electric, as well as the initial build. We can actively engage with any private facilities in the area to ensure that the public has some toilet access. The quantity in the county is good overall i.e. there are 18 blocks and another 20 with facilities, but yes we need to ensure that they are in the right places. But a lot of feedback is very good e.g. regarding the disabled provision at Abergavenny Bus Station, and how surveys tend to skew towards negative feedback needs to be considered. But it is a valid idea to revisit the survey. Though we don’t currently have the funds to build new blocks we will need to look at tourism hotspots in the county.
Are the opening times shrinking on the toilets we have? Closing early is an issue if the reason is a concern about drug-taking, as we don’t close parks or other facilities for that reason.
The opening hours of our current provision aren’t affected by advice from Gwent Police over anti-social behaviour, and they are flexible e.g. they will be extended during events such as Abergavenny Food Festival.
I disagree that there are toilets within walking distance of White Horse Lane. Would Council consider an agreement with Abergavenny Town Council to see if responsibility could be shared, or discuss whether there’s a mechanism whereby they could be reopened?
It is unusual for the population size of Abergavenny for there to be as many toilets: Brewery Yard, Castle Street, the bus station, Wetherspoons, Morrisons, etc. When the matter was previously discussed with ATC, they were ‘not opposed’ to MCC closing White Horse Lane toilets. The negative comments as to its condition in the survey and the high figure that would be required for repairs/refurbishment further explain its closure. It is also the toilets which Police identified as a particular location for anti-social behaviour. But the matter could be revisited by members.
The Severn Tunnel Junction point in the report is crucial. Keeping toilets free is very important. The baby changing point is also very important. When toilets do close, they can become a greater target for vandalism, so this needs to be addressed – will they be knocked down, e.g. the closure on the A40?
These are good points which we will bear in mind. Regarding the A40, as it is a trunk road responsibility falls to Welsh Government but we can refer that back to them and request an update.
Why is the estimated repair cost for Whitehorse Lane so high, at £93k?
The figures were arrived at by Landlords Services, having visited all of the toilets. This figure is indeed comparatively high – we are informed that there are problems with the roof and drains, but we can ask for further details.
Overall, the committee is positive about the good range of toilet provision that we offer in Monmouthshire. Councillor Bryn raised a very important point about being Stoma-friendly, and good signage. Clarification is needed over baby-changing facilities in both men’s and women’s toilets. Councillor Chandler asked if the Changing Spaces wording could be stronger, and what is the Council doing to address the lack of disability provision across the county. During the recent call-in meeting, residents expressed concern over the suitability and difficulty of public toilets for changing disabled adults, so that needs to be considered.It would be helpful to know if men or women are completing the User Satisfaction Survey, and their ages. The idea of gender-neutral toilets should be explored and included in the Impact Assessment, but public consultation is suggested considering safety concerns for female users. Better signage is needed. Can we explore the areas in which there is a high number of visitors, but no toilets e.g. Skenfrith? Councillor Callard suggested exploring a shared responsibility with Abergavenny Town Council for White Horse Lane toilets, rather than closing them, as there are no other toilets nearby. Councillor John supports the toilets at Severn Tunnel Junction, and notes that keeping toilets free of charge is vitally important.
Dave Jones: the MCC hyperlink to opening times in the report needs to be fixed – ACTION
Dave Jones to contact Welsh Government about the toilets on the A40, as they are a target for vandalism – ACTION
Dave Jones will seek further information from Landlords Services about costs, particularly related to the high repair figure for Whitehorse Lane toilets – ACTION
- LTS review covering report January 2023, item 3. PDF 663 KB
- Local Toilet Strategy revised version January 2023, item 3. PDF 817 KB
- Integrated Impact Assessment LTS Dec 22, item 3. PDF 684 KB