The Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Integration Team (SHINE HIT) is responding to the council's proposals to close many of Bristol's public toilets.
While closing public toilets may be seen as reducing costs to the local authority, it must be considered in the wider context including public health, quality of life, inclusion and economic wellbeing. Their response describes the negative impact the closures will have on people, including the elderly, people with disabilities, children, women, mobile workers and the homeless. There are also potential impacts on tourism, the use of green transport and, inevitably, hygiene.
Recognising the serious situation with regard to public funding, they end their response with some possible solutions. Read their full response (Word doc).
Suzanne Audrey, SHINE co-Director, said: "People may think that talking about toilets is either funny or embarrassing. But, if we want our city to be inclusive, and to promote the health and well-being of residents and visitors, then we do need to discuss this important issue.
"The closure of public toilets can lead to embarrassment and distress for people of all ages but can cause particular problems for the elderly, children, women, and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
"We understand there are very difficult decisions to be made in order to balance Bristol's budget. But, if people's physical activity and well being are affected by a lack of public toilets, this can lead to more expenditure for health and social services.
"There are ways to improve provision by working in partnership with local businesses, providing better signs and 'toilet maps', and using mobile phone apps and texting facilities. SHINE would be happy to work with others on a public toilet strategy for Bristol to ensure that residents and visitors are confident that they have 'somewhere to go' when they are out and about anywhere in the city."