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Opinions split over public toilets reopening

PUBLISHED: 16:05 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 18:12 22 May 2020

The public toilet in Beach Road, Wells, is one of those the district council is planning to reopen on May 22. Inset, North Norfolk District Council Leader Sarah Butikofer. Pictures: Google StreetView/NNDC

The public toilet in Beach Road, Wells, is one of those the district council is planning to reopen on May 22. Inset, North Norfolk District Council Leader Sarah Butikofer. Pictures: Google StreetView/NNDC

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Opinions are divided over whether public toilets in Norfolk closed during the coronavirus lockdown should now be reopened.

The public toilet in Beach Road, Wells, is one of those the district council is planning to reopen on May 22. Inset, North Norfolk District Council Leader Sarah Butikofer. Picture: Google StreetViewThe public toilet in Beach Road, Wells, is one of those the district council is planning to reopen on May 22. Inset, North Norfolk District Council Leader Sarah Butikofer. Picture: Google StreetView

While some local councils such as Broadland and Norwich have closed all their public loos, toilets in other areas including King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, are all open.

Other councils are taking a gradual approach, with public toilets in North Norfolk and Great Yarmouth now opening some of their seaside loos, but keeping other shut.

In a survey on this newspaper’s website, around 63pc of respondents said they thought all toilets should be reopened, while 37pc were not in favour.

Francesca Stevens, from Cambridge, found herself caught out by a shut toilet on a visit to Wells on May 19.

Sarah Butikofer. Picture: NNDCSarah Butikofer. Picture: NNDC

The 71-year-old said she thought it was discriminatory to women to keep the toilets closed.

She said: “I was desperate and I thought it was pretty awful of them, in fact we couldn’t believe it.

“Where were we supposed to go? My husband was all right, he peed against a wall but I could not very well pull down my trousers could I?”

MORE: Human waste left on beach after visitors flock to coastal village

Phil Graham, from Holt, said it made sense to reopen the toilets. He said: “If this doesn’t happen then there will be human waste everywhere and surely that will be more damaging.

“As long as the cleaners can wear masks and gloves and are able to keep safe I’m sure it’s the best solution.”

But others took a different view. One reader commented on the quiz post: “Under guidelines they would need to be cleaned after every use, and the cleaner would need a new pair of gloves and possibly mask every time they do so. Where is the money coming from to pay for this person and PPE? Do you expect the councils to buy all the PPE although we have a shortage for NHS and care staff?”

A North Norfolk District Council spokesman said they were looking at reopening the rest of their toilets “in accordance with government guidance”.

The spokesman said: “Apart from people being able to enjoy the beach and countryside, there are few facilities - beyond key food retail businesses - such as cafes, pubs and restaurants, open for business at this time.

“In this respect, NNDC supports the objectives of ‘protect ourselves, protect Norfolk’ position in continuing to encourage people to stay at home for all but non-essential purposes and taking socially-distanced exercise and outdoor time.”

A Norwich City Council spokesman said their toilets would be reopened “on a case-by-case basis and in line with government guidance”.


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