There’s plenty of activity in Poltair Park in St Austell and it’s not just children enjoying the excellent play equipment or dog walkers benefitting from the green open space. Users of the park cannot have missed the Heras fencing sectioning off the groundworks being laid in order to provide services to the new cafe. Finally, our long awaited cafe will soon be open in one of St Austell’s most popular parks.The benefits of the cafe should not be underestimated. Besides hopefully serving quality refreshments and food, the cafe will also be providing a much needed service - toilets.
We are encouraged to leave our sofas and use our parks and open green spaces to lead healthier lives. Positive measures we take to promote their use will have a beneficial effect on the community. The time we spend in our green spaces should not be limited by the need to spend a penny. This is particularly pertinent to the elderly, many of whom fear leaving their homes simply because they have nowhere to take a toilet break.
Worldwide 2.4 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation facilities. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared sanitation a universal human right. This means that everyone, everywhere, has the right to a toilet. In the UK toilets have been closing at alarming rate. Councils aren’t legally obliged to provide public toilets so many have been closed in order to save costs, in fact we’ve lost 40% in the last decade alone. I believe we need to reverse this trend and make it a statutory duty for local authorities to provide toilet facilities which are accessible to all. One positive measure recently announced by the Chancellor was to scrap business rates for stand alone public and private toilets, so that will go some way to release the burden on councils.
Some advocate that businesses should open up their toilets to the general public, but that may not necessarily provide the answer. Often they are situated at the back of cafes and shops or upstairs and few are accessible to wheelchair users. I have been known to purchase a coffee simply to use a loo which only makes the problem worse a short while later!
Truro Road Park will shortly be benefiting from a makeover to the bandstand. This will be a welcome investment in the Park, but underneath the bandstand are public toilets which have been shut for many years. Reopening the toilets will not come cheap. However, if they were reinstated more people would come to the park, enjoy the open green space and improve their health and wellbeing. It is a shame that those who would benefit most from our public open spaces are discouraged from visiting them simply because they are denied a basic human right.